Archive for April, 2014

Why did Jesus have to die?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

I was watching television on Monday night when at the end of the Q&A show former senator Bob Carr asked an interesting question.  What was troubling him was that he was unable to find a satisfactory reason as to why it was necessary that Jesus should die.  I know that there are as many angles to this question as there are to the theological inquiry as to how many angels could dance on the point of a pin, but I thought it a serious question that he asked, especially as the answers which the established churches would roll out are all equally nonsensical.

 

Perhaps the deepest answer to the question is that He did die.  By this I mean if we put aside all pondering over the why’s of His death the truth is that He was executed in the manner in which He was.  The religious authorities of His day, who were in essence no different from the church of our day, those who had set themselves up as authorities of God, could not bear Him, for His very presence confronted them with the reality of the lie they were living.  His execution was really a judgement against them, for while they said they served God with their mouth their hearts were, in fact, far from Him.  The church of today is no different, they too are serving God with their mouth but their hearts too are far from Him.  Jesus death was for God’s sake rather than man’s sake.  By proving that neither the religious nor the worldly authorities, represented by Pilate, had any qualms about killing Him, it is revealed that we all live quite happily without God.  But God’s desire is that we come to our senses and comprehend what we do in our ignorance and indifference – hate a just man without cause.  For His wish is that we live with Him into eternity rather than in our blindness and hate.

 

Without His death we would never see the depth of the blindness of our ways, nor would we know, without His living among us, that there is an altogether different way to live than how we do, and by His resurrection we see the full hope of forgiveness, life beyond the confines of this mortal sphere.  It is the power of Jesus love, in His overcoming all that is arrayed against heavenly love here, which is given to trusting hearts that they too might overcome as He did.  Because He has accomplished all, we too know that we, with the strength of His love poured out into our spirits, can also live as He did. 

 

The fact that the church does not live as He did reveals, in part, the reason for Bob's question.  For if His death is not effective in accomplishing its purpose then of what purpose is His death?  If the church was living in the same manner as He lived Bob would not be asking the question.  That is a judgement against the church, and one that they will have to answer for.

Perfection

Friday, April 18th, 2014

As we ponder Christ’s passion, trying to take into our hearts the magnitude of the love which enabled Him to face death with joy for the hope that it promised for all who put their trust in Him, it is good to bear in mind that at the last supper as He prepared the disciples for life without Him in the flesh, He said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”  He does not say that it is good that you try to love as I have loved, but He says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and my Father will love him and we will come to him, and make Our abode with Him.”  There is nothing but perfect love in these commands.

The Church does not teach perfection but it does make a song and dance at Easter to commemorate the Lord’s passion.  There is all the theatre of remembrance, the play acting as the Pontiff washes the feet of his chosen twelve, there is the wonderful theatre of the Orthodox prelate emerging from the supposed site of Christ’s tomb with a lit candle, there is the head bowed vigils throughout devout Christendom, there is even space given in the media to the local Church leadership for their sickening take on the Lord’s death, and there is the annual holiday which is a welcome break from the slavery of this world, and don’t forget the chocolates and Easter buns and chocolate bilby’s (if you happen to be an environmentalist), but nowhere is there the proclamation that this is the love that we are called to love one another with, and if we do not we have no part with Him.

Paul certainly knew the depth of this command when he said, “I could wish myself accursed from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”  In other words Paul is feeling in his heart such a desolation of separation from his fellow Jews who are perishing without the faith in Christ which he is knowing that he would do anything, within his power, to enable them to see what he is knowing, the love of God in Christ.  What is lacking in the teaching and the doctrines of the Church today is a similar hunger and passion.  Again Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.”

The question that must be asked is, what is lacking in the Church today?  Why is no one aching with love of Christ?  Why is it all fanfare and ritual and nothing of conforming to His love?  The obvious answer is that it no longer is the church of Christ, but it is more than that, no one really knows His love.  You cannot come to a real and living knowledge of His love by simply pondering His crucifixion.  The disciples who had walked with Him and come to know Him as no others did and who had witnessed all of His works of power, did not comprehend the depths of His death until after His resurrection.  It was not simply pondering His death that gave them life but their joy was made full because they loved Him and they received Him back from death.  Their entire life was trust in Him.  They had left all and followed and His love had changed the very nature of their hearts, and it was this aching love for Him that guided and transformed their life.  They literally could not live without Him, not because it was the right thing to do or the moral thing to do but because they could not live without Him!  His presence had become the greatest treasure of their life.  They had come to know that they could live without all things but one, Him!

The Church and all of so called Christendom is lacking one thing – love, love of Him.  This is because none have truly put their trust in Him entirely and found not only is there nothing lacking in His love for them, but also that they too want nothing else but to be with Him, for their joy has been made complete in the transformation of their lives by His love for them. This is what so transformed the disciples and made it impossible to do anything else but to serve Him and offer up their lives in the service of their faith, and in this love find all other things but dung, for the sake of the overwhelming joy of life with God.  To know God is perfection and the summing up of all things!

It is the knowledge of this love which filled Christ and that which He bore witness to on the cross.  It is the receiving of this love, into their hearts, which transformed a group of fisherman into becoming apostles of love.  It is lack of this love which is causing the Church to languish.  It is need of this love that we are crying out for, that we too might bear witness, along with all the saints, of the height and depth and breadth of the love of Christ.  It is the need for the perfection of our faith that the Church, and hence the world, needs, to glorify our Father in heaven.

Easter 2014

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Easter is almost upon us for another year.  The shops have been reminding us since Christmas, just in case we might forget.  It is good that we have such pious places of trade!  Most people are crass enough to think that all businesses are concerned about is profit!  As jolly as it is to wax lyrical about our selfless, pious sellers of hot cross buns and bunny ears and chocolate confectionaries that is not the reason for this letter.  I write that we might ponder just exactly what it was that Jesus did that still has us behaving rather bizarrely on an annual basis.

Jesus died that we might become brothers along with Him.  He said to His disciples, “I no longer call you slaves but friends.”  There was something about Him that so deeply transformed a group of uneducated working class men that they set the world on fire after His death.  What was the power of such love and how has its resonance stayed with us through the Ages?  Is there something more available to each of us than any of the fanfare that the Church heaps on?  We can all use a friend especially if He happens to be the son of God!

Love, God’s love is what Jesus reveals.  While we work for retirement and the hope of our children, Jesus lived entirely for God.  There was nothing in Him that sought a life here on earth.  He lived for one reason, heavenly life.  “My kingdom is not of this world.”  His disciples became like Him.  The witness of His life changed them forever, having left everything and followed, they never returned to their old lives.  This is His invitation to all of us.

Jesus wasn’t an alien, but a man, and the things He did we can also do.  If this was not so He does not speak to us.  But because He became a man He shows us what a man can be and also how He can help us to be the men and women we ought to be.  By seizing hold of His love He can make our lives be a continual Easter message.  New life in our old bodies!

If that was the case we wouldn’t need an annual event we ourselves would be the witness of His work.  Unfortunately, however, chocolate sales might suffer!