Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Cross is SUPPOSED to suck!

Several years ago I picked up a copy of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ magazine, The Watchtower.

(I’m still not sure why I did this.   For reasons I won’t go into here, I generally avoid this publication.)

This particular edition had an article about the cross, which, the writer insisted, is an inappropriate devotional symbol.  He had several reasons for saying so, but one of his arguments jumped off the page at me.

He wrote, “Hanging a cross on the wall to remember Jesus’ death would be like hanging a gun on the wall which was used to kill your mother!”

Now that’s an image!

It’s disturbing.  It’s disgusting.  In fact, it’s a revolting image!

It’s also a very good point.

We do not put crosses on the wall to remind us of “Christian values” or “spiritual truths.”  We display them to remind ourselves what Jesus went through.  We display them to remind ourselves what it has cost God to be “for us.”

But there is more to it than that.

I am suggesting that it is this “more” which it really disturbing, really disgusting, really revolting…, and which is the real point of all of this.

In order to make the story work, in order for the gun hanging on the wall have the impact it needs to have, we have to add one more detail:

We were the ones who pulled the trigger.

Ouch!

Now that gun is doing more than reminding us of our mother’s death.  Now it is showing us the lengths to which we will go in order to have our own way.  Now it is a constant reminder, not of our mother’s love for us, but how far we have run away from the love she had for us.

That is the point of the cross.  We put Jesus there.  We drove those nails through his wrists and ankles.  We stood around and made jokes, or blamed him for being our victim, or casually threw dice to see who would get his robe.

The cross is not so much a reminder of God’s love for us, as it is a reminder of how far we have run away from that love.  It is a statement of how far we have gone, and continue to go, in order to have our own way, to be in charge, to have no one else to whom we must give an answer.

Ultimately, the cross is a proclamation, to us, of what we were doing on Good Friday.

It really sucks.

But it’s supposed to.

Dare we the Cross?

Hi all.

One of the readings from the Bible for this coming Sunday is from 1st Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 22 and 23, “Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified….”

A few thoughts….

Religious people demand *proof* which shows that we are right: that *our* God is indeed in charge, that other gods are powerless, that *our* rituals are more effective, that *our* vocabulary is divinely sanctioned, that *our* rules are to be followed (by everyone!), that other’s religious traditions are mere wishful thinking, that *our* book is Inspired, that *our* clergy are more correctly ordained, that *our* creeds or faith statements are purer, that *our* belief is untainted by the world.

Then we religious people can say, “See? Heaven is on *our* side. We have PROOF!”

Secular people desire *facts* which show that we are right: that we *can* understand the universe, we *can* be in charge of our fate, we *can* control our environment, we *can* determine how life will unfold, we *can* manipulate the market to increase profits, we *can* direct how genes will divide and multiply, we *can* develop technology which will remove all risk from life, we *can* predict how the future will look, we *can* produce weapons which will win every war, we *can* expand human life and eliminate the threat of death itself.

Then we secular people can say, “See? The universe is on *our* side. We have the FACTS!”

The question for us preachers of the Gospel is this:

How is our proclamation of the crucified Christ going to challenge ANY of these assumptions? Do our theological ramblings on Sunday morning do ANYTHING about identifying these misguided attempts to replace God with ourselves?

Do we simply settle for proof, and slam the secularists?

Do we simply settle for facts, and slam the religious?

Do we pretend that the Cross raises us above either of these perspectives, and say it gives us a truer picture than either (which is simply another way of trying to disengage from the messiness of life!)?

Do we pretend that the Cross gives us the insight to pick and choose the “best” from both perspectives (which is simply a way of trying to avoid the consequences of life!)?

Or do we take the chance that Paul took, and proclaim that the Cross cuts us ALL off at the knees, religious AND secular, proof demanding AND wisdom seeking, engaged AND disengaged, and leaves us ALL completely helpless before God and everyone?

Do we dare say, with Paul, that being helpless before God and everyone is actually the best place to be?