I find myself increasingly taken with the inadequacy (or is insult the word I’m looking for? or perhaps presumption? puniness?) of looking at the death of Jesus merely as the settling of a divine debt against me; a heavenly “transaction” in my favor so I’m off the hook and on the way with my passport to heaven because Jesus writhed in hell for six hours on that cross.
It just seems so me-centered, so fixated on credits and debits.
I can’t help but wonder if this theology of spiritual balance sheets, of debits and credits hasn’t arisen because of our obsession with debt and guilt, rather than God’s.
Is God more accountant than father? Even if we fall in line with the traditional take that all of Jesus’ merit in his life and death is credited to our account, it still makes God and Life ultimately about merit and demerit, plus and minus, credit and debit, the eternal tallying, doesn’t it?
It just doesn’t add up.
As I contemplate the vast tableau of statements like Paul’s in Romans 5 or Ephesians 1, I’m having a hard time shaking the deepening impression that a gospel message about that day being all about me and the cancelling of my debt through Jesus cheapens the whole thing and misses the point.
It seems like something much wider, much wilder, much more expansive, much more cosmic in scale is happening here, as if the sunrise of a new reality has finally burst over the horizon, impacting, affecting, changing everything; a sunrise I can either bask in as I step out of my holed up assumptions and agendas, or block out as I slam the shutters closed.
Here’s the Rohr quote (yeah, I should probably get to that):
Jesus hung in total solidarity with the pain of the world and the far too many lives on this planet that have been “nasty, lonely, brutish, and short.” After the cross, we know that God is not watching human pain, nor apparently always stopping human pain, as much as God is found hanging with us alongside all human pain. Jesus’ ministry of healing and death, of solidarity with the crucified of history, forever tells us that God is found wherever the pain is. This leaves God on both sides of every war, in sympathy with both the pain of the perpetrator and the pain of the victim, with the excluded, the tortured, the abandoned, and the oppressed since the beginning of time. I wonder if we even like that. There are no games of moral superiority left for us now. Yet this is exactly the kind of Lover and the universal Love that humanity needs.
This is exactly how Jesus “redeemed the world by the blood of the cross.” It was not some kind of heavenly transaction, or “paying a price” to an offended God, as much as a cosmic communion with all that humanity has ever loved and ever suffered. If Jesus was paying any price it was to the hard and resistant defenses around our hearts and bodies. God has loved us from all eternity.
Think I’ll step away from the calculator. I’m going to bask in the sunrise on an ever expanding horizon…