The Good Word  


When it comes to blaming others for our misdeeds, we didn't fall far from the tree.  Father Adam's instant response to questioning was, "The woman you put here with me - she gave me . . . and I ate." [Genesis 3:12]  Thus, he blamed both God ("you") and his wife.

We not only refuse to accept rightful blame for our misdeeds but we conveniently blame our victims instead.  As Adam blamed God, so, thousands of years later as the children of Israel were being delivered from the bondage of Egypt (a symbol of sin), they repeatedly blamed God for their predicaments.  They went so far as to say that God was trying to kill them!  [Exodus 14:10; 16:3]

Our determination to avoid blame when we have done wrong pales in comparison to our resistance to unfair blame.  Why is it so hard for us to accept responsibility for wrongdoing?

One might speculate and catalog the various reasons under the headings of guilt, shame, fear, etc.  But it is no speculation that the scriptures speak of an infallible record of our deeds and thoughts.  [Revelation 20:12]  No wonder the book mentioned in Revelation 5 strikes such terror into the hearts of men.  So great is the fear, that no one can open or look into the book.  None can sanely accept responsibility for the dark corners of their lives.

That book: you and I are in there, too!
It is our natural inclination to shun blame and put it on God or others.  We do this because of the incredible mental pain that blame brings us.

Perhaps this is another key to understanding the cross of Jesus.  Christ died for our sins.  What does this mean? . . . that the just should die for the unjust?
Could it be that after thousands of years of man screwing up, and then blaming God, that God finally capitulated and said, "OK, it's my fault." . . .?  He accepted the blame.

As a lamb to the slaughter, he was led to the cross as a sinner and malefactor.  He opened not his mouth (as we would) to shirk the blame.  Taking the sin of the whole world, he accepted the blame for those sins.
It was foreseeing the anguish of this guilt that led him in the garden to plead, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me."

On the cross he was suspended between heaven and earth.  Rejected by his creation (on earth) he felt responsible for all that man had done and become.  He was shunned and rejected of men.

And with thick clouds and lightning overhead he felt rejected of heaven and its host.  In anguish of soul he cries out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" [Mark 15:34]

Never did a man feel more alone and damned than when Jesus hung on the cross.  Cut off and separated because of imputed misdeeds.

This is the terror of blame, from which we recoil.  The isolation and excommunication from all we love and cherish.

It was on the cross that Jesus opened and looked into the sealed scroll of Revelation 5.  It was there on the cross that he confronted and accepted the failures of our lives as his own.  Isaiah says that it is our sins which separate us from God. [Isaiah 59:2]  No more.  The separation ended by God himself (Jesus) being made sin.

By experiencing the separation in himself, Jesus brought God and man together, in himself.

The blame that you and I so vigorously resist - personal, personal, personal blame - he accepted that blame, too.

That cross: you and I were on there, too!
Only the resurrection and ascension give us the courage to ponder the depths of the cross.  The victory of the unity obtained at the cross was not demonstrated until three days later.  (God, that we might learn the lesson of later.)

Not till the bands of the tomb were burst did we have proof of the efficacy of the cross.  Only when life was seen to triumph over death did we have the courage to fall on our knees and cry, my Lord and my God.

As we peer with longing into the future, we anxiously await the grand reunion with him who is our life.  A glance over our shoulders through the portals of the empty tomb, to the cross beyond, shows us the path we have taken.  For just as we were there in that book, on that cross and from that tomb: so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Many have considered the suffering of the cross from a physical point of view.  It was a physical event.  But the uniqueness and power of the cross didn't come from a brief afternoon of pain.  The power of the cross lies in its multifaceted meaning.

This issue of The Good Word addresses one of those facets: blame and suffering.  To blame is to hold responsible for something deserving censure.  Right or wrong (from our point of view) it does seem that God accepted responsibility at the cross.

How unlike us God is.  Refusal to accept responsibility lies at the root of many of our conflicts and much corruption.  Would that the cross would lead us to embrace our guilt (not the deeds that led to the guilt).  And in this embrace, to find release and the cleansing stream that flows from the cross.  The name "Christian" ought to imply such a humbling embrace.

Dear reader, be warned that "church" may provide you with religion (which is anti-Christ).  But knowledge of Him, whose name is on the church door, is reserved for those who search, as for hidden treasure.

Your friend, Herb Sorensen