Monday, July 7, 2014

Is Jesus' Execution a Moral Act

My son has a strong sense of justice and fairness.  Most 4 year olds do.  When it comes to things related to his little sister everything has to be "fair".  Even if his concept of fair is a bit off, it has to be fair, ACCORDING TO HIM. 

The other day his little sister was upset about something and as a loving and caring big brother he suggested that some gummies might make her feel better.  What a sweet boy!  So as I was getting her a packet he thoughtfully said to me, "You know, it wouldn't be fair if she got gummies and I didn't.  You need to give me some too....."

I'm on to you kid.

As we age and "mature" we don't really change that much.  Our sense of fairness can be very self-centered.  The struggle is found in our inability to evaluate FAIRLY all the circumstances of an event that is affecting us.  There are blinders placed upon our perception of what is occurring that are fundamentally shaped by our ego-centric view of the world. 

If you don't agree with me, let me ask you this.  Have you ever felt angry and offended by how another car is driving on the highway?  Did you yell something at a driver who just cut you off while being self-assured that they are possibly the worst person on the planet? 

Did you ever cut someone off?  Don't have. 

Everything that happens to us is generally not very far removed from what we have at least one time done ourselves.  But but but, when we did it was an; accident, justifiable, one time, deserving, etc.

The murkiness in evaluating fairness and justice gets quite confusing when we start to evaluate the condition of our hearts and inner selves.  Especially in relation to the God revealed in the Bible.  At the heart of our disagreement in the revelation of God's righteous judgment against sin is the unstated belief that we really are not that bad and what we have done is not too terrible in the first place.

A big sticking place for many people is the Crucifixion of Christ.  Christian theology teaches us that Jesus' act of sacrifice was a necessary response to our sin and God's justice.  Often the self-assured criticism of such an act is that God must be some sort of abusive tyrant that He would demand death for my little white lies. 

A term of what Jesus does for us is "atonement".  Which basically means, to make payment for.  If the Bible is true, then ALL sin leads to death.  1 John tells us that God is light, and in God there is NO darkness.  There is no middle ground.  Either we are perfect, like God is perfect, or Death is the result.  What Jesus does on the cross is to pay the price of this reality on the behalf of those who can't pay it themselves.

Perhaps you have a philosophical problem with the connecting your "lying" to death.  It seems a bit too extreme a response to you.

Let me illustrate this with a reality that you will readily understand.

What would happen if you were angry at your best friend and you hit them?  Probably not much.  They might hit you back.  They might stop being your best friend.  But there wouldn't be much more than that.

What would happen if you were angry and hit a police officer?  You would be arrested and charged with the crime of assaulting a police officer.  Conviction would carry jail time. 

What would happen if you were angry and hit a child?  You would be arrested, not allowed near kids, and be treated as a pariah in civilized communities.

What would happen if you were angry and tried to physically assault the President of the United States?  You would most likely be shot.  If you survived that, you would be tried for treason and it may possibly be allowable to have you executed.

In each scenario the behavior you engaged in is essentially the same behavior.  But the context of the situation, and the role your target has radically changes the outcome.  Your best friend represents your best friend, the POUS represents an entire nation.  The crime "act" is the same, but the heart of the act, and the target of the act are exponentially different. 

While the person of the President is exponentially more "important" than that of your best friend, the person of God is INFINITELLY more important than even that of the President.  While the simple act may be the "same" what it represents is incomparable.  We logically accept the reality that hitting the President rightfully requires graver consequences than hitting your friend.  How much more so when the object of the affront is an infinitely Holy God, Creator of All??

Sin has no other outcome than death.  By God's very nature(LIGHT) all darkness(SIN) will be eradicated.  It isn't just a deliberate petty act to destroy sin.  But by the very nature of things, sin cannot exist in God's presence. 

When Jesus went to the cross He went as a logical response to the reality of Life.  Sin, ALL SIN, carries the penalty of death.  And it is a penalty that we are incapable of paying.  So in an act of absolute Love and Grace, God paid the price we cannot pay.   

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