If there’s a monster out there, it’s not God; it’s us!
10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended [we must kill the mocker in each of us].
Some people think that God is an angry God and that Jesus shields us from Him, that God required blood and violence to appease Him. Not So! The consequences of our sin are natural. In other words, we get what we deserve by creating the very situation that destroys us. God told Adam what would happen if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that he would surely die. Why? Because God was insulted that Adam didn’t believe Him? No. The reason Adam died is because he was not ready to handle temptation; he couldn’t even handle the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit. The result was that Adam–and all mankind–were drawn into the devil’s snare of temptation and became unholy. Look around us: Does anyone (generally speaking) resist temptation anymore? Have they ever in the history of mankind? The best we can do is create a culture that inhibits mankind’s more dastardly tendencies.
Author and pastor Brian Zahnd makes this statement in his book, “At the cross we violently sinned our sins into Jesus, and Jesus absorbed them, died because of them, carried them into death, and rose on the third day to speak the first word of the new world: ‘Peace be with you.’
When I say ‘we’ violently sinned our sins into Jesus, I mean that all of us are more or less implicated by our explicit or tacit support of the systems of violent power that frame our world. These are the very political and religious systems that executed Jesus. At the cross we see where Adam and Eve’s penchant for blame and Cain’s capacity for killing led us–to the murder of God! At Golgotha human sin is seen as utterly sinful. God did not require the death of Jesus–but we did!
So let’s be clear, the cross is not about the appeasement of a monster god. The cross is about the revelation of a merciful God. At the cross we discover a God who would rather die than kill his enemies. The cross is where God in Christ absorbs sin and recycles it into forgiveness. The cross is not what God inflicts upon Christ in order to forgive. The cross is what God endures in Christ as he forgives. Once we understand this, we know what we are seeing when we look at the cross: We are seeing the lengths to which a God of love will go in forgiving sin.”
Jesus is the sin-transmuter, changing the form and nature of sin into that which God uses to make us righteous. Sin no longer destroys us; instead, God uses it to shape us into the image of Christ. Are there consequences, yes, but God even uses the consequences to transform us. Paul says as much in Romans 8:28,
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
So, when someone has trouble comprehending that God is not angry and in need of appeasement, gently explain to them that if anyone’s a monster, it is us. We required the death of God; He willingly laid down His life for us so that we could then be made alive in Him. Here’s how it works:
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
We died in Christ so that those who believe that He is God can be born again, not living for themselves, but for Jesus because of what He has done for us. Simple, right?
Abba, may You reveal to us Your love, the love You were willing to share with us by coming to earth in human form–Jesus–and laying down Your life so that we could have eternal life. Wow! That’s some crazy love, Lord! Teach me how to love like that. I’ll bet it requires letting go of everything in this world. I pray I’m not too stuck in my ways to learn. Amen.