And so it begins. Another Lent when we give up peas (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 it.
A sort of bait-and-switch tactic, which is kinda genius if it weren’t for the fact that God deals with stupid humans. I mean, it’s not like all of humankind did an immediate about-face and never sinned again. If God really devised this plan 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?
Even so, this belief is easy for us to buy into because it makes no demands on us. It’s a bit like believing “fortified” Froot Loops are healthy! No kids – they’re NOT! So spit it out and go get yourself some common sense! GEEEEZZZZZ.
I hate to admit that I lived comfortably in that safe place for many years. Eventually, it grew impossible for me to accept such an untruth in light of the God I grew to know intimately. How can anyone “know” God, you ask? – By experiencing his essence in the beauty of nature, the love of family, the compassion of friends, and the thoughtfulness and generosity of strangers.
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 single blessed year, Lent calls us to look at the cross differently. It’s a perpetual life lesson that keeps showing up forty days a year, year-end and year out until we “get it”! If we get it at all.
Will we ever wake up to the beauty of the cross? 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, though, we must be willing to fix an unwavering gaze at 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.