Saturday, 16 July 2011
“The cross is the perfect statement both of God’s wrath against sin and of the depth of his love and mercy in the recovery of the damaged creation and its damagers. God’s mercy, patience, and love must be fully preached in the church. But they are not credible unless they are presented in tension with God’s infinite power, complete and sovereign control of the universe, holiness, and righteousness.
And where God’s righteousness is clearly presented, compassionate warnings of his holy anger against sin must be given, and warnings also of the certainty of divine judgment in endless alienation from God which will be unimaginably worse than the literal descriptions of hell. It is no wonder that the world and the church are not awakened when our leadership is either singing a lullaby concerning these matters or presenting them in a caricature which is so grotesque that it is unbelievable.
The tension between God’s holy righteousness and his compassionate mercy cannot be legitimately resolved by remolding his character into an image of pure benevolence as the church did in the nineteenth century. There is only one way that this contradiction can be removed: through the cross of Christ which reveals the severity of God’s anger against sin and the depth of his compassion in paying its penalty through the vicarious sacrifice of his Son.
In systems which resolve this tension by softening the character of God, Christ and his work become an addendum, and spiritual darkness becomes complete because the true God has been abandoned for the worship of a magnified image of human tolerance.” (1)
I think at every moment there is a tendency to rush towards one or the other. The cross is love poured out; the cross is wrath poured out. Binaries fight out in our mind, and we become ingrained on one side of the expanse. We have tried to create a dialogue between the two extremes, but it is impossible. And it is impossible except through what we have known. Then, we remember that Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient for the sins of the whole world--great enough to cover the great expanse, and wash our doubts away.
Enough for my haughty heart, enough for my lifeless soul.
Great enough to cover my lack of love, and my lack of righteousness.
Is the cross meaningful if you remove the wrath of God away from it? Is the cross meaningful if you remove the love of God away from it?
(1) (Lovelace, Richard. Dynamics for Spiritual Life, 84-85)