Good Friday Meditation

This is from my book Everything Must Change:

The cross is an even more dramatic narrative reversal. . . . Rome uses crosses to expose and pronounce a death sentence on rebels; Jesus uses the cross to expose Roman violence and religious complicity with it, while pronouncing a sentence of forgiveness on his crucifiers. His cross doesn’t represent a “shock and awe” display of power as Roman crucifixions were intended to do, but rather represents a “reverence and awe” display of God’s willingness to accept rejection and mistreatment, and then respond with forgiveness, reconciliation, and resurrection. In this kingdom, peace is not made and kept through the shedding of the blood of enemies, but the king himself sacrifices his blood to make a new kind of peace, offering amnesty to repentant rebels and open borders to needy immigrants.

If, as Dominic Crossan says, the Roman motto is peace through victory, or peace through the destruction of enemies, or peace through domination . . . then for Jesus the motto is peace through nonviolent justice, peace through the forgiveness of enemies, peace through reconciliation, peace through embrace and grace. If in the violent narratives of Rome the victorious are blessed – which means that the most heavily armed, the most willing to kill, and the most aggressive and dominant are blessed – then in the framing story of the kingdom of God, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, blessed are the peacemakers, and blessed are those who are willing to suffer for doing good. In this light, these aren’t simply greeting-card sentiments, but rather ways of starkly contrasting Jesus’ framing story with the narratives and counternarratives of his day.

To be a follower of Jesus in this light is a far different affair than many of us were taught: it means to join Jesus’ peace insurgency, to see through every regime that promises peace through violence, peace through domination, peace through genocide, peace through exclusion and intimidation. Following Jesus instead means forming communities that seek peace through justice, generosity, and mutual concern, and a willingness to suffer persecution but a refusal to inflict it on others. To follow Jesus is to become an atheist in regard to all bloodthirsty, tribal warrior gods, and to become a believer in the living God of grace and peace who, in Christ, sheds God’s own blood in a manifestation of amnesty and reconciliation.

– Brian McLaren in Everything Must Change

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  • Dave McCarthy

    Paul is a complicated figure writing things hard to understand according to Peter. Paul writes much about our freedom in Christ. How else would we have known it? How else are we to live in it? Freedom means nothing if we don’t use it to make room for our own faith and conscience in Christ. (Being fully convinced in our own mind=authenticity and wholehearted-ness.) The purpose of making room for our faith is not to have a covering for evil but the very way we praise God and build up others. (From our own heart. Not from what we have been told. Or the kool-aid crowd.)

    We simply should not move too far from what we have heard… and pretend we didn’t hear. This is truth but it is also intellectual honesty. Test all things and hold to what is good and builds others up.