I occasionally walk the few blocks through town to go to a noon mass at the Catholic Church. It’s an old stone building sitting right in the middle of high rises, and modern structures. I am not catholic, but I love the sacred time and beautiful rituals. I look forward to arriving and seeing the huge dark red doors, which seem to take you back in time. As I open the old door you hear a creak and then the spirit of God greets me like a pleasant breeze. My heart is touched by those lighting candles, and kneeling in prayer. It’s the middle of the day on a Tuesday, which means they are there for only one reason. Like me, they seek Gods love, power, grace, and presence. They seem to tolerate me watching them so I know what to do next. I’ve noticed my quads are a little sore the next day! In case you didn’t know, I am a recovering baptist.
I pulled the “thing” out from under the seat in front of me so that I could kneel on it and pray. It did make it more comfy. I then stared up at the incredible stained-glass window with a picture of Jesus on the cross. It reminded me of a time when I found the cross to be disturbing and confusing. I would often ponder the big question, “What kind of father would send his son to such a brutal death?” It was one of the questions that nearly lead me down the road to being an atheist. To me, It appeared to be yet another sign of the psychopathic false God I was about to leave. And now, I believe the cross represents something very different.
When I was a pastor I would say, “God SENT His Son to die on the cross.” Now, I would say, “God sent His Son knowing He would die on the cross.” I realize we could argue that is the same thing, but to me it is not. The evil and religious dogma that was present when Jesus was born would not tolerate someone like Him. There was no doubt He would be crucified for the message He would bring to us. I do see why so many have trouble with the cruelty of the cross, but I would like us to see something else.
Jesus came to earth to show us God in sandals. As you read the book of John (a book in the New Testament) you get to know the heart of God through the life and death of Jesus. We have to embrace this beautiful picture of God The Father as we see His son healing, loving, and here is the BIG one…forgiving. The incredible message that comes down from the cross is that everyone and everything is forgivable. Even the murder of His son! Make no mistake about it…it was the murder of an innocent man. It was the murder of the Son of God. And what do we hear from the lips of Jesus (God)? The most heart wrenching sin had just been committed against Him, and as blood ran down His face He utters, “Forgive them.”
In his book, “Sinners in The Hands of A Loving God” Brian Zahnd explains the cross beautifully:
Brian’s book has helped me better understand that we should not see God as the one who sacrificed His son as much as we should see that a beautiful and peaceful man was murdered by society. And the message is that even they can be forgiven. It removes any doubt that God will truly love and forgive all. Even those who would murder His child.
I do understand many of your doubts and for some…complete disbelief. I am not asking you to put your faith in the church, a pastor, or me. I simply want you to look at the life of Jesus. Accept that you can be forgiven for anything, and that you are deeply loved. And then, pass that love and grace on to others.
I love you,
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