May 26

Reason grown courageous

Martin LutherWe tackled one of the many difficult bits of James last Sunday, the bit about faith and deeds.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? James 2: 14

It is easy to get hung up on this, many people have, but I do not think there is any need…

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Apr 12

He Never said a Mumblin’ Word

Dali - Christ of St John of the CrossI am a Cross Christian. I believe Jesus died on the cross, for me. Not just for me of course, he died for you too (yes he did, wow! eh?). But he did die for me. That fact is staggering. Jesus Christ died for you and me.

It is more than that though. Jesus didn’t just die for us; he let us kill him on a cross. This is an important distinction to make because it implies a very explicit act of will. Forgive the irreverence, but Jesus did not have a bit of an accident with a cross.

Nor did Jesus have no choice in the matter.

Jesus was the Son of God and he was God incarnate. He had repeatedly demonstrated his sovereignty over creation, life, death and Satan and he was the most powerful being ever to exist. In the heavenly host, he commanded armies of universal supremacy and power. He could unleash the wrath of the creator at will. He could end the universe in the blink of an eye.

One does not crucify such a person without his explicit permission.

Jesus chose, deliberately and intentionally, to let us kill him and, I believe, he continued to choose to do so incessantly and resolutely until the point of his death and beyond.

When I think of the crucifixion, one of the pictures that come to mind is Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross.

This is a striking image and, although a little kitsch, it appeals both to my surrealist sensibilities and to my sense of drama and perspective. The painting shows Christ on the cross, but without nails or ties, looking down, from high above, on a fishing scene.  I can easily imagine, in the darkness above and behind the crucified Lord, the most powerful army ever to be arrayed: Michael, Gabriel and the host of heaven baying for blood, desperate to intercede, with Christ’s outstretched arms the only things preventing a devastating execution of justice upon mankind.

The crucifixion is one long, terrible and unparalleled demonstration of loving restraint.

Thank you, my Lord. Thank you.


Apr 10

Why the Cross Christian?

The Cross ChristianI am a cross Christian.

A cross Christian? It jars a bit doesn’t it? Surely, Christians should be happy all the time? Well, I am not. In fact, as I get older I realise I am getting crosser. Or at least, as I get older more things make me cross.

When I first started thinking about writing, I wanted to put the world right, to express myself honestly and to make God proud. I also wanted to see if I had any talent, to see if this was something I could actually do.

However, I realise that a lot of what I want to say is angry and that I am in danger of just adding more rant to an already angry web space. The amount of bile and hatred and the lack of consideration and love on the social web makes me… er… cross.

I think I can legitimately be cross while trying to put the world right and I can certainly express myself honestly through rant! The main challenge is to tackle the last one – making God proud. This is where I need to think and pray. This is where the hope Jesus gives me needs to be brought to bear on my cynicism and I need to turn anger and crossness into joy. Frankly, that sounds rather hard, but I shall give it a go.

On the upside, I also realise that it might be constructive to tackle this anger in the open – after all there might even be one or two others like me, Christians who get cross. I strongly suspect so. I hear things you know, and I read things too.

Finally, I am also a Cross Christian. Did you see what I did there? I believe that Jesus died for me on a cross and that because he did; I am forgiven and get to live forever. That is very cool.