And so it begins – another Lent – when we give up peas and spinach (my husband’s favorite sacrifice) but not our belief that we are such wretched souls that a vindictive God demanded the death of his Son to fix our sorry selves.
A bait-and-switch tactic if you ask me. Which is kinda genius if it weren’t for the fact that God knows us witless humans all too well. I mean, it’s not like all of humankind did an immediate about-face and never sinned again. If God really devised this plan (which I don’t believe) to correct the stupidity of Adam and Eve, it didn’t work. We have continued to sin and fall short of the glory of God. So, what would have been the point?
Wouldn’t that supposed “plan” of his have rendered him incapable of running the Universe? Wouldn’t a higher-up call him into their office on Monday morning to make an accounting for his actions? “I’m sorry to inform you that the Board has decided to replace you. You’re fired. Please turn in your badge and keys now. Also, I would recommend you not use us as a reference on a resume for future employment.”
Still, as crazy as it all seems to me, many Christians just can’t seem to let go of the belief that God sent his beloved Son to die for our wretchedness. That belief makes no demands on us. It’s a bit like believing “fortified” Froot Loops are healthy because it says so right on the box. No kids – they’re NOT! So spit them out and go get your mother. I want to have a heart-to-heart with her. Then, if the conversation goes as planned, be prepared for a plate full of broccoli tomorrow morning. If not, you can have your crappy Fruit Loops back!
But I digress…
I hate to admit that I was also comfortable in that “God the Mighty Judge” belief for many years. But eventually, it became impossible for me to accept in light of the God I grew to know intimately. How can anyone “know” God? – you ask? Well, “knowledge” of God’s love will never get you there. It’s only when you experience that love within the very depth of your heart.
Jesus’ Passion should declare the unbridled love of God for us. The cross should upend any denial that he loves us deeply and obsessively. But, as Hebrews 10:31 tells us, “It’s just way too scary to fall into the hands of the living God” (loose translation). That is not a god we want to snuggle up to. We prefer a god like that unpredictable, crazy uncle we keep at a distance. Genesis 3:8 insists that Adam and Eve ran and hid from that god!
Every year, Lent calls us to look at the cross differently. It’s a perpetual life lesson that keeps showing up forty days a year, every single year until we “get it”! Sadly, many don’t. Will we ever wake up to the beauty of the cross that goes beyond Jesus’ suffering? I believe that can only be possible through the eyes of faith – illuminated by the grace of a tender, loving God.
For that to happen, we must be willing to fix an unwavering gaze on the cross and realize the true meaning of Jesus’ Passion. We must embrace with faith – even if it’s a bit shaky – the reality that the crucifixion on Friday and the empty tomb on Saturday were necessary for the revelation of the profound mystery that is God manifest through Jesus on Easter Sunday.
My prayer is that you and your loved ones have a very blessed Easter!