By Bishop Peggy Johnson
In a recent post from Scripture Union’s “Daily Encounter,” the death of Christ on the cross was described this way: “The cross will not be the brutal victory of Jesus’ enemies in a fatal power game, but rather an offering for others. God’s power exceeds death.” (“The One Who Chose to Die” posted April 10, 2019).
It seems to me that people who look upon the cross have these two choices always before them. The world, with its obsession with power, sees Jesus’ death as a tragic loss for a martyr who was on the wrong side of a religious argument. However, the eyes of faith see it as God’s offering of love for the whole suffering world, so that all may be forgiven, and all might experience the “come alongside” grace of God.
I trust that we in the household of faith view the cross with those eyes. This is the thing that United Methodists can agree on! Jesus died for all, and the offering of forgiveness goes on and on. Sharing that passion and resurrection Good News is the point of church in the first place.
However, the pull of the “world” on us is strong. Our human desire to “win,” to beat our enemies, to be “right” sometimes screams louder than the call of Christ to “take up our cross” in humble submission and service.
Christianity is a call to “downward mobility,” humility, love of enemies and sacrifice. The world can look at that as pure insanity and as being a “loser.” The true church has always been counter-cultural that way.
During Holy Week, to truly observe a blessed Good Friday is to commit ourselves once again to:
– the mystery of God dying for his creation;
– the irony of death being the way to true life; and
– the paradox of poverty being the way to true riches.
We follow in the footsteps of one who gave his all, out of love for us. This is expressed so well in this simple hymn: “My Master was So Very Poor” by Harry Lee (www.Hymntime.com). It is a call to us to do the same, to express our humble, selfless love for one another.
My Master was so very poor, a manger was His cradling place.
So very rich my Master was, Kings came from far to gain His grace.
My Master was so very poor and with the poor He broke the bread.
So very rich my Master was that multitudes by him were fed.
My Master was so very poor, they nailed Him naked to a cross.
So very rich my Master was He gave His all and knew no loss.