ISSUES OF FAITH: Through cross and passion of Christ, we find God

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.Corinthians 2:1-2

FOR MANY PEOPLE, the idea of God is nebulous.

Others find themselves searching for God as if he is hiding among the stars or tucked away in nature.

Unfortunately, being lost, blind, confused and searching for God is not uncommon in this world; in fact, the world itself did not recognize God when he showed up in person (John 1:10).

Christ Jesus came into this world as the Light of the World.

God, in the person and ministry of Christ, broke into the deep darkness that all humanity lived in as they wrestled with the location and identity of the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Isaiah 9:2, Matt 4:13-16). He broke into their lives to reveal his identity.

God is a God of abundant grace. Through his miracle at the wedding of Cana (John 2:1-11) or as he fed the 5,000 (John 6:1-15), he showed his generous love. His blessings came to fill all people to the full and more.

He demonstrated through his authority as he rebuked the storm (Matt 8:23-27) and as he caused the dead to rise (John 11:1-44) simply with the sound of his voice.

Yet the greatest revelation of who God is came not when Jesus spoke the words that calmed the waves or gave life to the dead but when he spoke the words that would cause the world to think God deserted him: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46)

It is in the cross and passion of Christ that we see the true identity and nature of God himself.

He is not a distant God, unfamiliar with pain, sorrow and death. He has felt the very things that we feel a much more. It is with compassion that he looked down at his creation (Matt 9:36), and it is with his mercy that he sought to reconcile it to himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).

At the cross is where the greatest revelation of God lies. The cross brings restoration to a relationship shattered by sin.

The cross brings reconciliation between creator and created. The cross ushers in a new covenant of forgiveness and eternal life to the whole world.

Therefore it was the joy the cross would bring that he willingly and purposefully endured the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2). God himself bore our corrupted flesh, brought into existence with the shattering of Eden by Adam and Eve.

He was pierced for the sin that lives in us with our thoughts, words and deeds, and took upon himself the righteous wrath of God as he carried our sorrows. It is through the wounds of the cross that we are healed (Isaiah 53:3-6).

God placed himself under the weight of the law and paid the penalty we deserve. Through God doing it, that forgiveness and eternal life won on the cross is a once-and-for-all sacrifice.

The cross confuses the wisdom of this world as it stumbles over the thought that the King of Kings would willingly endure such ridicule and misery for his people (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is hard to believe that one would die for another, but regardless of what one believes, Christ died for all, for you (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

He breathed the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” so that you would never do the same.

Yes, in this life you will suffer. Your body will fail you. Your strength will run out. Friends and family will frustrate you and leave you.

God will never fail you; his faithfulness will never run out, and he will never leave you (Psalms 121:1-2, Hebrews 13:5).

Some argue that the trials we face in this world are evidence that there is no God. They could not be more wrong. It is in those trials that God shows his true power.

In those struggles, he encourages his people by reminding them that no matter what this world and life bring, nothing will separate them from his love and promise (Romans 8:35-39). It is in the transient pain and sorrow of this life that our Lord demonstrates his power and the impact of his eternal work on the cross (2 Corinthians 12:9).

No matter what is taken from you — your health, your loved one, your own life — your place in heaven is secure because of the cross.

For many, the idea of God is nebulous. Others find themselves searching for God as if he is hiding among the stars or tucked away in nature.

Being lost, blind, confused and searching for God is not uncommon in this world. God knew that no matter how hard we searched, we could never come to him; he needed to come to us, and come to us he did.

He demonstrated his power pointing to his identity, and he demonstrated his love for us by laying his life down, winning us forgiveness and a relationship with him. It is because of all of this that he says in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

This is the very reason the Apostle Paul desired to know nothing except Christ and him crucified. Christ’s cross changed everything for Paul. It changes everything for you and me.

It teaches us about the one and only God’s nature. It provides us confidence when doubt or disbelief creeps into our mind about God’s love for us, as we hear from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

It teaches us that in the midst of pain, God’s mission of demonstrating his power is made perfect, even as it confuses the wisdom of this world.

If you find yourself wondering about God, if you find yourself searching for him, look no further than the cross.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Patrick Lovejoy is minister of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or [email protected].

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