As a sinner, there is no more dangerous place to stand than before a just and holy God. (Why would a criminal walk into a courtroom?)
So I decided that life is not a courtroom—God is not a judge, I am not a criminal; life is…a beach. The cross is a prop that sits quietly on the horizon of my life while I attend to more important things—earning a living, raising children, preparing meals, doing laundry, answering email, paying bills, picking Mega Million numbers.
I was quite sure I had no need of religion. I was quite sure I could find everything I needed without bothering God. With life coaches, yoga classes, Dr. Phil, Disneyland, cable television, car/home/health/dental/life insurances, church, friends, and my iPad, I could say with confidence: my bases are covered.
Easter rolls around and all of a sudden strange words—proper nouns—appear in the subject lines of emails in my inbox—Lent, Pontius Pilate, Barabbas, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Passover, Easter Bunny. The strange words disclose a disturbing claim:
God (a spirit),
in Jesus (a man),
suffered and died on a cross,
because of me,
instead of me,
out of love for me.
(My head hurts. I’m still recovering from Christmas. Very ready for Mother’s Day.)
If a bloody crucifixion is the solution, I have extremely underestimated the problem. When I deny that my sins are active offenses against God, when I don’t take them seriously enough, Easter doesn’t let me get away with it.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came to heal the sick.
Well, I look up directions before leaving the house. I take a multivitamin pill every morning. I believe I’m a decent person. On a 1-10 scale of likability, I’m probably an 8.5. I have no (known) enemies. I don’t lie, cheat, or steal (except at Del Taco, where I bag far more napkins and Del Scorcho sauce than I need). I try really hard to resist texting while driving, report real numbers on my income taxes, say “please” and “thank you,” read to my kids, buckle up, be on time. I’m supposed to believe that I am undeserving of God’s grace and that there is no good reason for God to love me. But really, what’s there not to love?
It looks like I’m going to need a lot more than a support group and a good sermon, a priest and some penance, to make it through this life and into the next alive.
So now I have this 2,012-year-old crucifixion/resurrection event I have to reconcile with my conscience, this death of Jesus I am allegedly partly responsible for. As if I need one more thing to think about. As if decisions about my children’s education, my father’s future with Alzheimer’s disease, my career, and what to cook for dinner aren’t enough to make my head explode.
Easter is an inconvenient truth, right up there with global warming.
I continue to disqualify myself for Christianity. I don’t care nearly enough about what transpired between Adam and Eve and the serpent in Eden, and what transpired on the cross at Calvary. Yet, God continues to exploit His free will by justifying sinners like me.
Mercy triumphs over judgment. Every Easter.