The Cross of Christ teaches three great truths about myself: I am radically broken, I am radically loved and I am radically called.
At first glance, the first two assertions might seem like contradictions. True Christianity begins its work on us by first raking us over the coals of our sins. It tells us in no uncertain terms that we are infected by sin and pride at every level in our being. Jesus came right out and called the religious leaders of his time “evil” (which no doubt sent the Pharisees and Sadducees scrambling to find a safe space.)
Our hearts are deceitful above all things. We’re spiritually blind to all spiritual truth. We’re deaf to God’s Word. Our minds are darkened, unable to grasp the truth even if we could hear it. In fact, Scripture comes right out and says we’re spiritually dead. Stick a fork in us. (But other than being blind, deaf, dumb, and dead, we’re in pretty good shape.)
You almost couldn’t say anything worse about a human being than Christianity says. “What a low view of human nature!” a critic might say. But not so fast. Christianity swiftly moves on to teach us that we are radically loved and valued by God.
If a doctor sits you down and explains that the truth to you that you are dangerously sick, he’s not insulting you. He’s just telling you the truth about yourself. And if that doctor then goes on to say, “But I’m going to do everything in my power to get you better,” and he then proceeds to move heaven and earth to do just that, now you dramatically learn how much that doctor cares for you, and values your life.
Welcome to Christianity. Where God sits us down and explains the truth to us. That we are dangerously sick, and as things stand, our life will become an eternal ruin if things don’t change. But God doesn’t stop there. He then does something that the God of no other religion does (which is one reason among many why I know that if there is a true religion, then this one is it).
This God rolls up his sleeves, literally moves heaven and earth, by coming to earth as one of us, and then takes on himself all the ugliness, shame and punishment that my own sin has produced, and he carries it away from me, like a bomb that had been strapped to me, so that when it goes off, only he gets hurt by it, not me.
If a doctor sits you down and explains that the truth to you that you are dangerously sick, he’s not insulting you.
In case I’m being too obtuse, this is what God was up to when Jesus Christ was crucified on that Roman cross 2,000 years ago.
My friend, I can confidently say that no one, and I mean NO ONE, has ever loved you like this.
“In this is love…that God loved us and sent his Son to be a sacrifice for our sins.”
So on the cross we see both of these seemingly contradictory truths connected. I am radically broken, for how awful must the state of my heart be if this is the remedy to heal me. But I am radically loved, for how valuable I must be to God if he would pay this price to save me.
There’s a song that says, “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that he should give his only Son, to make a wretch his treasure.”
Don’t you ever doubt it for a second.