Wednesday, April 04, 2012


As noted Monday, Easter week causes me to ponder deeply my theology & faith. 

As, I believe, it should for all of us, Christian or not.

I think we race past Good Friday for a couple of reasons. First, it's just plain icky & gross, especially when one understands all the incredibly-brutal physical aspects of crucifixion. We don't like to talk about it. Second, we minimize it in a nearly Gnostic way: "well yeah, but Jesus was God, so He didn't really get hurt on that first Good Friday; it was just His body." Wrong! All that He was experienced all that crucifixion was. Including agonizing suffering and death.

But there's a third reason I think we race past Good Friday. Way down deep inside of ourselves, we don't really think the crucifixion of Jesus was necessary. Even us Christians. (Stay with me!) In our heart of hearts, we don't really think we're THAT bad. Sure, we "mess up" now & then; some more often than others. But to think we're really NOT good after all? That we're NOT righteous folks who just goof a little bit? To imagine that we need more than just an attitude adjustment or a "little help here"? Those things can't possibly be true.

And yet, they are true. The problem is--to me anyway--we start from the wrong place in two directions. First, we start with a very small view of God and therefore of His righteousness & holiness. It's as if God is merely this really-cool, super-strong buddy who never goofs like we do. Now, my own favorite name of God in all of Scripture is Jehovah Shammah which basically means, "The Lord Who is Present." I love the immanence & closeness with which God draws near to us. But be not mistaken: God is so much more than just my super-cool friend & homeboy that the comparison quickly becomes ludicrous. And His righteousness & holiness are so far beyond anything we've ever seen or been that we can't even imagine. Among the many benefits of reading the Old Testament is gaining a great appreciation for God's holiness & righteousness. Moses was told that if any of the people of Israel touched the mountain where God was speaking with Moses, they would die. Later, the temple was constructed with a progressive set of barriers at least in part to protect the people from being undone by the holiness of God. "No man can see me and live..." I could go on, but you get the idea.

Second, we start with a very grand view of ourselves. We're not really that bad. We "make mistakes" and "apologize to any who were offended." (Aside: that is really not an apology at all.  No remorse, no repentance; basically, "if you're so small as to have been offended, then I'll sigh at you & say you shouldn't have.)  We certainly don't see ourselves as unrighteous, sinful people needing not just help but redemption. We are helpless. When Isaiah saw the glory of God, he said "woe is me! I am undone...for I am a man of unclean lips & I live among a people of unclean lips..." When Peter caught just a glimpse of Jesus' majesty, he said "Go away from me, for I am a sinful man."

Which is why I so love the lyrics of this song. It's very sad, echoing a heart cry buried deep within us all. How could I have done so much wrong? How can I have a relationship with you, Jehovah Shammah? How could an awesome, holy, righteous God like You, who knows & sees all that I am still say I'm good? As the song says, "Could there be something more?"

Yes there could. Yes there can.

Start with right thinking about God. Not as we re-make him, but as He is described in Scripture (which is FAR more awesome & wonderful than any god I could imagine!). And move from there to right thinking about you (& me!) and about our (unpopular word alert!) sinfulness.

And then try to grasp the unfathomable love that was demonstrated on a hill outside of Jerusalem on a Friday a couple of millenia ago.

This particular song is on a collection Lisa bought me for Christmas.  The idea is to capture the whole of the Bible's story (It's based on an attempt to do so in literary form.  I was underwhelmed by that attempt, for what it's worth.)  Some of the songs on the CD are just OK, but some are just fantastic.

This one took a couple of listens for me, but I really love it.  (It's Adam & Eve speaking to God after their sin.)  The lyrics are haunting and simply fantastic.  It's also Mike Madaris speaking to God after MY sin. 

"To feel your breath when branches move...take one more sunset walk with you"..."Can't imagine how you could see all of me and say 'It's Good.'"

Don't race past Friday!

p.s. - The song is 6 minutes long & is found here. Freshen up your coffee & enjoy! 

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