One reason I cannot get on my personal soap box about turning in our crosses and replacing them with a dove or maybe a charm bracelet with the manger scene and all its accompanying characters, has to do with what the scriptures say about the cross. It turns out that the cross, as a representation of the crucifixion of Jesus, is proof that God loves us according to the scriptures. Here are some examples:
But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 CEB
The cross is a symbol that helps us glimpse this God that we believe in. And this is an important thing to consider because we forget who he is so easily.
One of my children had a very unfortunate experience at his job; when he recounted the story, it enraged me. I was completely aggravated that justice was going completely unserved (in my opinion). I had all sorts of ideas about how justice might be achieved.
A few years ago I had a friend who went through a divorce. The process taught me that justice is not guaranteed in the legal system. If one person is ruthless enough, willing to lie and cheat and steal and act without conscience or the barest of human consideration for another, it really is hard for the system to fairly split the marital assets, much less mete out justice. The process itself is cruel and unrelenting. My friend deserved better than he got. I wanted justice. And on some days, I wanted retribution on my friend’s behalf.
For someone who thinks like me in this regard, it sounds like I should hang a gavel around my neck. And it is a worthy symbol too. But it doesn’t represent God as well as the cross.
If we study the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion, what we discover is that EVERY system let him down. The religious authorities violated their own code of conduct. The folks who had followed him so enthusiastically deserted him, including his disciples. And the law of the land was also not enforced. Every system that should have been a protection betrayed him.
How does Jesus respond?
He refuses to retaliate.
He does his Jesus thing – loving even when someone doesn’t love him back.
Tomorrow…why this matters for us…