Monday, September 1, 2008
Every now and then I'll read or hear something that just seems to literally overwhelm my thinking for a few days. Joe's message this weekend had that kind of impact on me. If you weren't there, you can check out his message at the link below:
(It may not be up until Wednesday due to the holiday)
Joe was speaking on Simplicity to end our "Awe" series. Towards the end of his message, he focused beautifully on the simplicity of the central message of Christianity: that God loves the world so much that he sent his Son to die for us and to rise again to fix the otherwise irreparable tear in our relationship with him brought about by our sin and rebellion.
It's been a long time since I've thought about the cross as much as Joe's message has led me to these last couple of days. I was brought up Catholic, and in the Catholic church crucifixes almost always had Jesus on them. There were times when I would be bored with mass and I would just stare at the cross with Jesus on it and try to figure out what it all meant. I knew I was a sinner, I knew I did wrong and even that I did wrong intentionally, and in doing so I knew I violated what I was taught God's rules were. But the fact that God was so offended by my fairly petty misdeeds that someone had to die for them seemed to me to point to a rather thin-skinned deity. After all, if I could get over a friend lying to me in a week or so and be his friend again, I thought God should certainly be able to do the same.
Of course, I was missing the point completely on multiple levels. I certainly hope I have a better understanding now than I had then of God, of the real and devastating impact of sin on my relationship with him (and on every relationship in my life), of concepts like salvation, redemption and atonement, and of God's tremendous and relentless love of humanity. But none of that knowledge can take the place of the need to reflect on the cross and consider what it really means to me today.
As an adult I think the biggest challenge is that the cross can begin to be relegated to the status of an historic event like D-Day or Lincoln's assassination, something that certainly helped shape the world I live in but has only indirect and unconscious impact on how I live today. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth. If anything about Christianity is true, if it has any power at all to bring healing to broken lives and hope to a helplessly messed up world, then the cross is and must be as relevant to my life today as it was the day it happened.
So that's where I've been the last couple of days- just thinking about the cross. What impact do I allow it to have on me daily? What kind of effect should it have on me? I don't have all the answers yet. I suspect I never will. But it's well worth considering.