Sunday, April 04, 2010

the reasons I believe: the cross

Reason #1: Looking at the world and being disappointed.
Reason #2: Creation.

Reason #3: The cross.

I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross… In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross which symbolises divine suffering. ‘The cross of Christ … is God’s only self-justification in such a world’ as ours.

I almost don't want to write any more, after this quote (from John Stott's The Cross of Christ). It is, for me, one of the most meaningful and wonderful things ever written that isn't included in the Bible. Because it captures what for me is IT, the essential kernel of Christianity that has me hooked.

I am so often confused, so often bewildered, by life; so often unsure of my own ability to understand; so often horrified by what is happening in the world and what has happened in the world. I don't know why I believe. I doubt. I object. I am overcome by fear of the largeness of it all and by the sting of death. I worry that God cannot possibly love so disappointing a creature as I and that my sin is too large for it to be forgiven.

And then I look to the cross. It answers all my questions.

The God who could crush me like a beetle loved me and "humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" That is no frail love. It is more powerful than my sin and is enough to save me.

When I have moments of terror - I don't want to die! - I am suddenly hit with the memory that Jesus was terrified too. He went through everything I go through and more. He did not want to die, yet he did it, for me, and I cannot ignore such love.

Love so amazing, so divine - demands my soul, my life, my all.

No comments: