The Cross, Human Violence, and The Crucifixion of God
The Paris attacks and global crises have had me thinking, thinking a lot (and losing sleep). My emotions over these devastating events have me feeling angry, enraged, and sad, depressed, and in other words, I am wrestling with human emotion. There is no escaping the realities of “feelings.” As many are processing these attacks through social media, the issue keeps coming up “how do we handle these religious violent people groups?” Here are the questions:
A) Is bombing them the right thing?
B) Is pacifism the right thing?
Each of these choices has real life consequences that will affect the outcome concerning the world around us economically, politically, and future relations regarding peace, etc. Humanity is bound to humanity; the short term can lead to an even longer term of reconciliation and peace. In other words, these are not easy answers because there are devastating affects. I have been reading many responses on this issue, and each of these responses I am filtering through the “emotional irrational rational depressed file,” What I call the “EIRD Syndrome.”
It is understandable that humanity wants these people to pay for their crimes for taking innocent lives. It’s understandable that people want justice and vengeance in the face of hate crimes committed against innocent human beings. It’s understandable that humans want and desire protection from these crimes being committed. It’s understandable because justice is the longing of our hearts, a world made right/righteous, but instead we are stuck with sin blurring our way of doing it the right way. These are understandable reactions against people who have no regard for human life.
I was driving and these questions continued to repeat themselves in my head like a broken record. The first question that kept playing in my mind was,
How big is your understanding of God?
Is He small?
The second was this: Shouldn’t we as followers of Jesus filter everything through the Cross of Jesus? It’s easy to look at other human beings in light of their crimes, sins, violence and hate (do we apply the same verdict on ourselves? Romans 1-3). But what’s the cross about again? Somehow in my anger I heard another voice that opposed my anger, it was the crucified one who died on a violent cross absorbing human violence on himself. As much as I try to fight against it and oppose it, the cross of Jesus is the beacon for the world, it is God’s final message to humanity; it’s God Judgment and wrath against God, it’s man against man, God opposing and accepting man, it’s Judgment of God, it’s blood, sin, violence, hate being emptied of it’s power. The paradoxical violent Cross is the instrument by which God has used to conquer the hostility and injustice in our world and actions, it’s the weapon that has torn down the walls of false pretention, judgment, dividing borders, dividing human ideologies, dividing nations. It has stood against a false religiosity that cloaks itself as true salvation while remaining wholly detached from the world, because in His death all these realties are swallowed up in Christ. There is nothing in this universe that has not been swallowed up in the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and in his death all things must be filtered through his judgment that has brought peace through the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).
I do not pretend to have all the answers on how everything should play out politically, socially, ethically etc. These questions are far too complex for me, but I believe that somehow God is bound to humanity and humanity is bound to God. But I suspect the lingering affects of war, nationalism, and pride will be in my head like a tune that has been played repeatedly. It will continue to have its haunting affects on dividing humans from humans; we have been trained to revel in these dividing tunes. But if we are still and quiet before the cross of Christ, we can hear this song inviting us to ask ourselves: How big is our God? And what has not been filtered through this bloody cross where God and humanity were crucified? - Casey Dayton