Friday, March 29, 2013

Handed Over To Sinners

Good Friday!

I've always struggled with this term.  How is the death of Jesus good?  If He is my Lord and I love Him with all my heart then how can I rejoice in His death?  Even though I recognize the necessity of His death in order to gain life for me, how can I be happy?  How can I call it good?

The fact is it is objectively good even if it doesn't seem so.  The love of our Lord poured out on a cross for sinners is good.  The opportunity to be delivered from sin and inherit eternal life is good.

This Good Friday I am seeing  these events juxtaposed with current events.  Our country is divided over issues of abortion and gay marriage as well as many others.  I must confess to becoming angry with those who want to promote such things.  But why am I angry?  Is it because my Lord is blasphemed?  Possibly.  Or is it because such things are actually bad for the people involved?  Maybe.  Or is it because so much of the world does not see things as I do?  Probably!

It's at this point that I am asking myself how would Jesus respond to these things if He were still here in the flesh?  I cannot see Him spewing the vitriol that has become characteristic of those with a more conservative bent.  Neither can I see Him espousing these changes.

The Church, as the body of Christ, has a responsibility to say and do those things that Jesus says and does.  It is necessary to speak and work in favor of the Good.  Abortion is the killing of infants.  That is not good.  No possible perceived good can outweigh the intentional taking of innocent human life.  Gay marriage is a misnomer.  Marriage was created by God as a means of naturally propagating the race.  Homosexual relations have no way of doing that.  Furthermore, God has not created people to define themselves by their sexual practices- of whatever nature they may be.  We are much more than that.  We are created in the image and likeness of God.  That means that we have reason and will to choose the Good even if it conflicts with our natural desires.  So the Church is right to stand for marriage as God created it and to oppose anything else that attempts to classify itself as marriage.

But what if the world won't listen?  Then what?

Do we resort to "attacks" to get our point across?  Will the ends justify the means?  Can we claim to stand in the name of Christ when we no longer follow in the actions of Christ?  Good Friday brings perspective to this problem.

In the words of St. Peter, "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly," (1 Peter 2:21-23).  Jesus was handed over to sinners.  Clearly they were in the wrong and He was right.  But rather than contend for what should be, He remained silent and did not insist on defending His own rights or insuring that His point is made.  He humbles Himself and demonstrates His love.  Was it received?  It does not appear so- at least not in the immediate context.  But His way of love won out in the end.  For the Roman Empire that crucified Him no longer exists, but the Church of Jesus Christ remains.  People all over the world have been impacted by His life, death, and resurrection.  He gains disciples daily over 2,000 years later.  Yes, His way of love triumphs over all other ways.

What do I learn from this?  That our current world is lost and torn by its own insatiable desires.  I have a responsibility to do all I can to point them to our Savior.  But if they will not listen then I must silently allow myself to be misunderstood, maligned, or worst of all, completely ignored.  In this way I walk with my Lord in the way of  His cross and choose love over the need to be seen as right.

This is not easy.  In fact, this, like everything in the Christian life, is impossible.  But as I draw near to the Lord I allow Him to live His life through me and He makes the impossible possible.  And I draw near to Him, among other ways, by patiently enduring trials as He did.  
Today, Good Friday, I hope I will succeed in taking a few more steps along the way of the cross with my Lord.  I hope I will persevere under the weight of a cross and allow a crucifixion like His.  By His help I know that my hope will be realized.

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