It is troubling.
Yet I must profess to you that no one has greater joy and regard for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross than I do. It is my salvation and it rattles my consciousness to a sensibility of my own sinful nature and the grace of God.
That being said, I fear that the church has become “atone-deaf.”
Nearly desperate to land on a universal message for Christianity which can be compactly shared at a moment’s notice, we have placed too much attention on a hill called Golgotha, and not nearly enough tender loving care with a Sermon shared from a Mount. In doing this, we have contradicted things we know about the nature of God in order to fulfill the doctrine of the propitiation of sin.
For instance, God ordained free will for humans. Yet we’re led to believe that “from the foundations of the world” it was pre-destined that Jesus would be killed on a cross.
When God spoke through the Old Testament prophets, He declared that He wanted mercy, not sacrifice. Yet for some reason we decide that He changed His mind and adopted human sacrifice as the symbol of His covenant.
As a writer, the first thing you learn is to be faithful to your characters. You can’t manipulate the plotline by causing your character to do something completely beyond the scope of his or her nature, just so you can advance your story.
God gave us free will. We chose to kill Jesus.
God hates sacrifice. He took the death of Jesus and transformed it into our salvation.
What was meant for evil, He made good.
Atonement should be a central theme in the Christian message. It is powerful. It is priceless. But by no means should it be preached so loudly that it makes us deaf to the greater matters of the kingdom–tenderness, responsibility, excellence, consolation and tolerance.
What can we do to keep the death of Jesus in perspective?
I have always received the gift of Calvary as my salvation and a license for me to go out and salvage. How? First, deal with my own appetites and also multiply my talents. Once I become the salvager–the “light of the world” and “the salt of the earth”–I have the ability to transfuse the energy of salvation, pass it along to others and see them reborn.
The conclusion? As a saved soul who has become salvaged and a saver, I fulfill the purpose of me being rescued.
We’ve got to start listening again. We have to stop trying to fulfill denominational doctrine and instead, emphasize the character of God.
Jesus lived for thirty-three years to give the human race a chance to accept his message. He used stories; he used confrontation. He used healing; he used mercy.
And at the end of it all, we used crucifixion.
God, in His infinite grace, chose to take the blood that we shed and make it a symbol of our salvation rather than a further curse of our rebellion. It’s remarkable.
But if we want to find the heart of Jesus, it is not at Calvary.
It is in the words, deeds, actions and anointing of his life.