Last night, at a young adults group I lead, we got into a discussion about the violence of certain Old Testament texts and how we are to understand/reconcile these with the ethics of Jesus. This led to a discussion of various other evils—from personal struggles down to the most grievous of historical calamities. It was a good discussion, and I was greatly encouraged by the maturity of their views about God, evil, redemption, and hope.
But at times, even with some good theological tools to work with and a strong faith in a God who is bringing and will finally bring good out of evil, it can be tempting to move toward despair, to wonder what God has done/is doing with this planet. As I was beavering away on a sermon today, I recalled this passage from John Stott’s The Cross of Christ that I encountered a while back. Food for thought, as we prepare to enter the Easter season:
I could not myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as “God on the cross.” In the real world of pain, how cold one worship a God immune to it…. I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross that symbolizes divine suffering. “The cross of Christ… is God’s only self-justification in such a world” as ours.