For many of us, God can feel like our adversary. We struggle with many things in the world and our lives, where we may conclude that God has brought this struggle upon us. Instead of a God who shows us the path to new life and love, the image which lurks in our heads is a distant God pointing down at us from the heavens with a furled brow to offer unmerciful judgment. If such an image of God dwells in us, we may engage in a certain self-hatred. It is not so long before we start to conclude some people are in and some are out—and if things are not going well, we are one of those who may feel we are on the divine outs. Christians are sometimes pretty good at falling into the very human temptation of separating people into tidy moral categories of our own constructions. We can do a real number on ourselves and others.
God does not will us or anyone else to suffer. Instead, through the cross, God deeply identifies with our suffering and the suffering of the world. S. Mark Heim tells us that “the cross is a reminder of something that never should have happened.” The cross is not an act of grace or a symbol that Jesus had to endure such violence that we might live and be saved. The cross is not part of some divine plan. Instead, I like what Pastor Sally May said to me the other day when she told me about Dr. Heim’s words. In her view, the cross compels us to see injustice, hatred, or something which will harm someone else or others, and then leads us to address what is wrong and unjust in the world. The cross, and the violence which accompanies it, are not redemptive, but help us to see the world as it is more clearly and do something to heal it.
Of course, we cannot heal alone; we need God’s encouragement and help. We need to be lifted up by the Easter hope we find in the resurrection—which reminds us that no trial or tribulation, not even death itself can ever overcome the love of God. The resurrection offers life and hope in the face of all the ways we inflict wounds on ourselves and others. The resurrection offers grace and love to all—Christians and non-Christians alike. It helps alleviate us of our struggle and hopelessness, and brings life. The resurrection should never be used as a way to inflict wrath or separate the righteous from the unrighteous. We are all broken in some way and stand in need of God’s abundant love, forgiveness and hope, which is far beyond what we can imagine. Love is expansive and it is eternal in this life and the next.
Come join us this Easter season to share in God’s abundant love and grace made known to us in the risen Christ. The resurrection is a gift to you and me and the world, which longs for good news.
May the peace of Christ be with you!