Part Seven in my series Only a Suffering God Can Save
The cross is a way of life. The cross answers everything. It all depends on it. It is a way of fighting without any losers. A way to victory with out anyone being defeated. It is a way of winning where you bring your opponent with you.
Living the crucifixion is about refusing the simplistic win-lose scenario and holding out for a win-win scenario instead. It is about not refusing to hate, since that would only perpetuate the same old cycle of victimization. The cross does say that evil must be stood up to, but the answer is to hold the tension, the pain, and the ambiguity of it all within yourself. “Resist evil, and overcome it with good,” is what Paul says.
Instead of pretending to stand above evil, the cross teaches us to accept our own complicity in it. “Everyone has sinned,” Paul says, and the Son of God had the humility to “become sin” with us, while we like to think we don’t sin.
What the cross teaches is how to stand against hate without becoming hate, how to fight evil without becoming evil. You will begin to feel yourself stretched in two directions: toward the goodness of God, and toward recognition of your own complicity with evil. In that moment you will feel crucified. You will be stretched in between, your very life a paradox, held together in hope by God.
The agenda of the cross is reconciliation. Two are to become one. This is true of God and you, but it is also true of you and your supposed enemy. You may, like Jesus, have to pay the price for that reconciliation yourself, instead of insisting that the other do it. Remember the word religion means to re-bind, and all religion, when it is at its best, is about making two into one.
Remember, the cross shows us that the opponent is not so much evil itself, as it is a symbol for a greater evil which they are a victim of as well. Think about that. The lesson of the cross is one that teaches empathy and forgiveness. We are all victims in this together. We must bear the burden of all human evil on the cross with Christ, evil that we are all participants in and victims of. It is the ultimate excercise of solidarity with humanity.
Obviously, we can not do it alone. We need Christ. We must identify with His crucified humanity, and rely upon His divinity. Only then can He do it through us, with us, and for us. Then we will be reborn as His “new creation.”
Concluded in Redemptive Suffering