Monday, May 14, 2012
I Love You So Much, I'll Jump Off a Bridge
What if she had responded by saying, "I love you too, honey. In fact, I love you so much I am going to go jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and kill myself."
You'd be horrified. Perplexed. Is she joking? Is she serious? Is she crazy? Gosh, Mom, I knew you were getting up there in age, but really? Jump off a bridge because you love me? Maybe it's time to see a psychologist.
But isn't that what we Christians sound like when we tell people who don't know the Gospel that "Jesus loves them so much he died for them"? Maybe some people have a vague idea that "Jesus died for their sins", but do they really understand what that sacrafice means? Do they know the reason Jesus died? Why the crucifiction HAD to happen?
So maybe we share with them a little bit about why Jesus died and we say that "Jesus took their place" - another common Christian phrase. My place? My place in line? My place at the beach? Huh? This Christian jargon is so familiar to us, but must sound a bit crazy to those outside the "holy bubble."
Yes, Jesus died for me because he loves me, but that is not the whole story. He HAD to die because my sin requires retribution by a just God. This is why a lot of people don't like the Old Testament. God is "mean" and "angry", one minute and loving and forgiving the next. He unleashes his wrath on sinners in ways that are flat out disturbing. (The word "smite" comes to mind!)
We are born sinful, apart from God, and need reconciliation.
We continue to sin throughout life.
Our inherited sin (or "original sin" as some call it) and our continuing sin requires retribution. (He can't just "let us off" if he is truly a just God.)
THAT RETRIBUTION IS PAID IN FULL ONCE AND FOR ALL BY CHRIST ON THE CROSS.
SO GOD LOVES US ENOUGH TO SEND HIS SON TO TAKE OUR PLACE TO SATISFY HIS RIGHTEOUS WRATH.
Wow. That is heavy and a bit disturbing, isn't it? The Gospel of Grace isn't an entirely pretty story.
In a past blog entry, I mentioned how I watched the movie "The Passion of the Christ" and how I felt every whip on Jesus's body that was made by the Roman soldiers. Crack after crack the of the whip came down on Jesus' body opening up large, gaping wounds. I winced and eventually could not look.That lashing was meant for me! Instead Jesus bore it. Each crack represented retribution, repayment, and restitution. With the crucifiction of Jesus (and the resurrection) came reconciliation, restoration and renewal. As Isaiah 53 says, "By His wounds, we are healed." Our relationship with a just God is restored because he gave up his one and only Son, Jesus, as payment for our sins. What an enormous debt to pay and what a loving God to do so!
Now of course, Jesus IS God and so God is BOTH just and loving, angry and forgiving, but I will save the Trinity Doctrine for someone who can better explain it. For now, I will just say that I don't have to understand how it all works, I just have to accept in faith, that Jesus did become my Savior on Calvary and live my life as a reflection of my gratitude for this debt having been paid.
Jesus wasn't suicidal; He was sacrificial.
I John 2:2, 4:10
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