Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lent '09 - Day 40: Why does Jesus' death and ressurection matter?

As Lent comes to a close with Easter, I like to rehash through my head why Jesus' death and resurrection matter. This year, God's wrath kept coming to the forefront. I think understanding God's wrath is key for making sense of Easter.

If you aren't aware, God can get pissed as a result of our actions. The Biblical narrative has some 189 references to wrath. I'm sure some people have a problem that God gets so angry. His wrath seems deserved to me. He created this world and had intentions for it. But his plan, was dependent on us choosing to love him and obey him. We instead displayed amazing aptitude for destroying and perverting the world. I think most would agree with that statement, but would point to others, and not identify themselves in that camp. It's true that we're not all Hitlers, but I'm quite confident that we've all done and/or thought some incredibly selfish things. Just like I can't change God's wrath, I can't change that his expectations are high of us, and as a result, I've fallen short. I'm deserving of God's wrath.

God's wrath is the result of a consequence system, where if something wrong is done, it needs to be righted and/or a penalty needs to to be incurred. It stems from that deep-seated sense of justice or fairness that we feel.

Concerning whether God's wrath is legitimate, I'd like to quote a blog entry I read recently:
Sure, you can argue about whether God should have wrath [or a consequence system], just like you could argue about whether the sky should be blue, or whether water should be the sustaining liquid for the world rather than the milk of cows. But you're not running the universe, and neither am I, so declaring that we don't like the way God has set it up doesn't ultimate change things. What does change things, if the Bible is true, is Christ's death. It means that no longer is anyone judged on the basis of their own righteousness (or lack thereof), unless, by rejecting God's gift, they demand to be judged on their own merit instead of Christ's. That's always an option, but not one I'd choose.
God's model for handling with our crap is to provide a proxy that we can cling to. This Jesus proxy is an invitation to a new life.

Paul speaks wonderfully to the change in our situation due to Christ in Ephesians 2:1-10:
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Paul gets that we were deserving of wrath, but through Christ another way is provided. As the blog writer above wrote, we don't have to choose it, but it would seem pretty foolish not to. If we choose it, we've been saved, and there is plenty of work for us to do.

I'd like to take a quick tangent and discuss how many adore Christ for his sacrifice. The cynic in me thinks, if the situation is God's wrath needing to be fulfilled is true, and you had the opportunity to be sacrifice for the world, wouldn't you do it? I know it would suck to be the sacrifice, but one life for the lives of billions seems like an incredible trade. God's smart, so he's of course take i,t right? If it's true, it provides such an amazing opportunity to scale. It would be like having one of Amazon's server's go down so that millions could be guaranteed to be failure-free. Of course you'd loose that one server for such exchange. I think this line of thinking is naive though. I know the weight that I have felt when I being confronted by a poor choice. It weighs and it doesn't feel good to cause others pain. Knowing the emotional turmoil I have felt for my own failures, could you imagine taking those on for everyone? I think I'd literally explode, and that if I knew what I was taking on, there's no way I would, and even no way that I could. I expect that only God could have taken the full weight of this on, and that I should not trivialize the life exchange.

This is admittedly not a very well organized post. If you have thoughts, questions, or doubts about the whole Jesus resurrection thing, I certainly welcome them. Thanks for reading.

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