If there is a God who loves us and has acted in history to express that love, what would it look like?
The sheer poetry of the Jesus story.
Jesus is God coming to us in love. Sheer unadulterated, unfiltered love. Stripped of everything that could get in the way. Naked and vulnerable, hanging on a cross, asking the question “What will you do with me?”
This is why for thousands of years Christians have found the cross to be so central to life. It speaks to us of God’s suffering, God’s pain, God’s broken heart. It’s God making the first move and waiting for our response.
If you have ever given yourself to someone and had your heart broken, you know how God feels.
If you have ever given yourself to someone and found yourself waiting for their response, exposed and vulnerable, left hanging in the balance, you know how God feels.
If you have ever given yourself to someone and they responded, they reciprocated with love of their own, you know how God feels.
The cross is God’s way of saying “I know what it’s like.”
The execution stake is the created of the universe saying, “I know how you feel.”
The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, “Me too”.
This can transform our experience of heartbreak. Our first need is not for people to fix our problems. People who charg in and have all the answers and try to make things right without first joining us in our pain generally annoy us, or worse yet, they push us away. The God Jesus points us to is not a god who stands at a distance, wringing his hands and saying, “If only you’d listened to me.”
This is the God who holds out his hands and asks, “Would you like to see the holes where the bails went? Would that help?”
It’s the place we find we’re not alone, where we find strength to go on. Not a strength that comes from ourselves but a strength that comes from God. The God who keeps going. Who keeps offering. Who keeps loving. Who keeps risking.
A God who know’s what it’s like.
The cross is where we present our wounds to God and say, “Here, you take them.”
Our healing begins when we participate in the suffering of God. When we don’t avoid it, but enter into it, and in the process enter into the life of God. When we see our pain not as separating us from but connecting us to our maker.
And in this connection, there’s always the chance we’ll find a reason to risk again. If God can continue to risk, then maybe we can too.
There is something divine in your suffering. Somebody divine in your pain.
(An excerpt from Sex God by Rob Bell)