I spent some time this morning, thinking through the implications of Good Friday, of Jesus’s sacrifice, on how I could honor His life and death, along with His resurrection.
An Old Welsh Hymn, Here is Love, uses these powerful words to describe Jesus’s sacrifice, verse 2:
On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.
My favorite line is, “Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice/Kissed a guilty world with love.”
Any other expression or atonement theory to describe what we celebrate today outside of love snatches from Jesus’s death its intended meaning. An event so tantamount to our faith as the crucifixion should also shape us so deeply. Rob Bell, and others, (and even his temporary opponents) would say that our thoughts about God shape our God and that God turns around to shape us. The God who hung on a cross most certainly loved, even those who planned his death.
Jesus’s ultimate expression towards the world and, consequently, His grand vision to save it was to kiss it, even though the world stood under the power of sin and death and did not honor God. In a day where outsiders of our faith suffer from despondency along with an unclear idea of what Christianity is really about, we have a great opportunity to return to a pattern of ‘taking up a cross’ to follow Jesus as He continues to kiss a guilty world with love.
A Church ‘from the middle’ has a unique challenge that our first faith parents did not have as a Church ‘from beneath’ or ‘from the fringe’ or ‘in secret’. Ben Franklin once said, “Well done is better than well said.” The first followers of Jesus, though they had a great message to share, were primarily shaped by what they did as they followed Jesus, than what they said. Even Paul, among the 1st followers of Jesus, shaped his theology more around the deeds of Christ, rather than Jesus’s words. Paul only quotes Jesus’s “Red Letters” 3 times. The majority of Paul’s content is shaped by what Jesus did.
In a world that shares words at 140 characters at a time, perhaps the crucifixion reminds us, with prophetic posture, that “well done” is also on the heart and mind of God.
What cross are you and I bearing, not just sharing?
May we be people who, along with our Great God and Savior, continue to kiss the guilty world with love.