I’ve sat in churches for the best part of ten years hearing the same rhetoric about the meaning of Easter. It goes a little something like this:
“Jesus came to earth to die on the cross to save you from your sins and he rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven.”
Usually this is followed by a bunch of cheering.
Can I be totally honest with you? I never got what was so great about that. And please save me from every possible angle at which you can come at the penal substitution theory. I’ve tried to get excited about them all. (And Failed)
At the risk of being named a total heretic, I been left scratching my head about why that would be enough to save us. Why would we get excited about a man being beaten, tortured and nailed brutally to a cross 2,000 years ago in order to save us from sin? To many people I’ve spoken to, it seems a bit barbaric for that to be the entire basis on which one would base their faith.
Friend. If the cross gets you excited and you “get it”. I am so happy for you. But you must understand that for many people;
The Cross is Not Enough.
If you look at the death and resurrection of Christ as an isolated incident (As we often do) then you are missing out on the whole, beautiful, life changing point of God’s love.
Because isn’t that what Christ was here to demonstrate? The love of our Father God? I don’t know about you but I have never met a Father who required one of his children to die a horrible death in order to accept the other son/daughter again.
I’ve come to a place where I believe he came to earth to show us something that was already abundantly true. I reckon he came down because religious people of the day were just getting it so terribly wrong, turning his word into a rule book that was impossible to adhere to. When you look at the whole story leading up to the life and death of Christ. You see a God who relentlessly pursues those made in his image only to be rejected over and over again. Yet he never gives up. He never did. And he didn’t need Jesus to die to accept us. Jesus’ death on the Cross is a graphic reminder of what we have done to God and still do to God everyday.
As Richard Rohr puts it “The Cross is a Mirror”. We murdered his love, we hurt his creation, we hurt one another, we start wars in the name of imaginary borders, we build walls, we create clubs with impossible rules and regulations. When he came to Earth to show us a new way, we religious folk didn’t like it. We were threatened, we got jealous. He wasn’t what we expected. So we murdered him the most brutal way possible.
This one event has shaped history forever and captivated millions of people to follow the way and teachings of Jesus.
To me this makes more sense then penal substitution ever did. Yes the scriptures written around that time suggest penal substitution is central but remember this is because that is how a sacrificial culture would have understood his death. The Lamb of God = The Passover Lamb et cetera. But it’s not the entire picture like we have tried to shove down peoples throats ever since.
Jesus did not come so that people could get into some heavenly Kingdom, He came so he could show us what the Kingdom looks like. And it is is ALL inclusive.
The last thing we want to do is create another “Who’s in and Who’s out” culture that Jesus constantly crticised. Language like “Saved” and “Converted” and “Became a Christian” can be so very dangerous. It suggests that an individual created in the image of God, loved by God since before they were in their Mother’s womb is somehow incomplete without “being saved”.
I knew about Jesus and God ever since I was 7 years old. I knew the general gist of the whole deal. Hearing the ol’’ “Jesus Died on the Cross for you” was not the thing that captivated my heart.
I had a divine revelation of the Love of God when I was 19 in my spirit and through the Love of his followers. My eyes were opened. “I was blind, but now I see.”
God’s people demonstrated his unconditional love to me when I felt completely unworthy and like life was not worth living.
I was already loved beyond comprehension as God’s child.
I just couldn’t see it.
I think that’s what breaks God’s heart the most. When his children can’t see how much he loves them. And I am grieved to see well meaning Christians in past times and present preventing people from people seeing God’s love. I haven’t come across too many LGBTIQ people who can say they have felt the Love of God inside a church building.
Friend, you are apart of the story of God’s love. Yes, Easter is a part of this story. But it didn’t stop there. It continues with us as we breathe in his love as unconditional, no strings attached, as we love and hold our children, as we hold each other, as we reach out to those who need us, as we laugh, enjoy and live life as a community.
The Cross is Not Enough.
But Love. Love is enough.