Thursday, 11 August 2011
He was this great man, full of life, and love, compassion and hope. He was so young, with a young man’s sense of humor, and young man’s sense of injustice, and a young man’s conviction, and aplomb to love. And they didn’t just kill him, they tortured and humiliated him. And he hung in agony for so long, his loved ones watching helplessly, his mother crying. And I don’t understand why.
I mean – he died for inciting insurrection -- no, I get that. Lots of people throughout history have died unjustly and in horrible fashion, but this one is on my shoulders? I somehow own some responsibility in this because he chose to die for me? To forgive my what? I don't understand!
So I set out to read the whole story from the beginning -- maybe, if I could just understand what sin is, what God wants, then I could understand the death of this man and how I am involved.
I’m through Leviticus. I understand nothing significant about what sin is, how I am free of it, or why it is so important to God. When I was an Atheist my working definition of sin was “anything bad” -- things you know you’re not supposed to do, but you do anyway. Immorality, in other words. Now, morality is somewhat subjective, but I very rarely ever do anything that would cause me to feel guilt. I’m not perfect, but I try hard to be a good person.
And yet I understand that I've done something so unforgivable that God can’t accept me into relationship without atonement through this sacrifice? How have I offended God that badly? And how does sacrifice atone for it? God required sacrafices of atonement from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were not righteous people. But it wasn’t their behavior they atoned for -- their sacrifices were offerings in exchange for blessings and favor. He required sacrifice from the Israelites -- offerings and atonement. The tabernacle must have looked and smelled like a slaughterhouse. What kind of holy temple does that make?
God laid out these rules for them (and breaking God's rules is sin?): be socially responsible -- yes I get that one! Be hygienic -- agreed! Be good to each other -- yes! Don’t eat cloven footed animals -- what? Stay away from sick people -- that seems kind of harsh. Pay your taxes to the priests -- I don’t know about this, God. You’re unclean if you ejaculate or menstruate -- wait just a damn minute! Did you “design” me in a way you find abhorrent?
They taught my son at Bible camp that God made him so complex out of love. They taught the children of Israel that they were disgusting and wicked by their very nature, and God is so displeased with them about it that he won’t forgive them until they kill a goat.
But its okay; my son doesn’t have to kill a goat -- because of Jesus’s sacrifice.
I don't understand. I want to believe. I want to continue the path of peace and purpose I began by studying, searching for, and learning about God. But the most important part of Christianity -- the acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal savior -- "Savior" is the very part I don’t understand.
I’m digging deep into the corporate confessions spoken by congregations around the world. If I have time I will update you about what I’m discovering regarding the “sins” modern man asks forgiveness for and how they are similar and dissimilar to the sins of God’s original law. But I’m looking for the thread that ties it together -- the piece that says God is eternal and unchanging, the epiphany that brings it all home -- and I have faith that if I keep looking I’ll find it.
But you should pray for me. I’m not yet saved.
How do you answer these questions? Why did Jesus die? How do our sins influence the crucifixion of Jesus, His death and resurrection? In addition, how would you clarify the existence of the Levitical rules in scripture and why we no longer follow them?