Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday: The Most Offensive Story Ever Told

As a writer and make-believe player, I believe in the transformative power of stories. I believe in fairytales. Magic. 

Here's a little story. One I borrowed. It is the most offensive story ever told.

Once upon a time there was a God. A God full of love. Overflowing with it, really. In fact, He had so much love to give, He decided to create an entire universe just to love and reflect His love. Through some serious magic, He created all sorts of amazing things. Mountains, black holes, and even things too small to see like oxygen. He also created these funny little animals that resembled Himself. He loved them the most. He called them people. 

He hung out with these people for a while and really enjoyed being with them in the space He crafted out of nothing. It was beautiful and the people He made were, in every way imaginable, free. Except for one thing. They weren't aloud to eat from a certain tree. A special tree...

Why He created a special tree they weren't allowed to eat from, I don't know. Maybe He was testing them, maybe He planned it all out, or maybe it was a bit of both. Whatever it was, He just did. 

The people He made were a curious pair. Curious enough to color outside the lines and do the thing they were told not to do. They were deceived and couldn't believe that hanging out with The God was good enough. There had to be more...or so they thought. 

One day, as the story goes, they dropped the proverbial ball and ate from the forbidden tree. The God wasn't very happy. Especially after He had given them everything and they still chose to rebel. To reject what He had for them and want something more than Himself. 

The God banished them from that special place, and gave them a new home to live in. A place that wasn't with Him and the separation made them miserable.

For whatever reason, because of His excellent love, or because He planned it all out, or maybe it was a bit of both, He devised a plan to give them a second chance to get back to that special place and have their hungry hearts satisfied once and for all. 

Because this God was so worthy of allegiance and because His people's rebellion was so big in His eyes, He required an equally big punishment for the offense. A sacrifice. Death. 

Instead of demanding this sacrifice from the undeserving guilty ones, The God provided the victim Himself. For whatever reason, because He planned it that way or because He loved them so much, or both, He decided that the only perfect sacrifice to cover the offense was if He himself became like them and marched willingly to personally pay the debt.  

Magic happened. He transformed Himself into one of them. And in the greatest demonstration of irony and love, on a very special tree they killed Him. A tree they should have been on because they thought enjoying a tree might be better than enjoying the Creator of it.

After He had been pierced on that very special tree, one He had created Himself, He was laid to rest in a grave. Dead.

Then the most magical thing happened. After three days of being fully dead, The God came back to life! The people set free from their banishment!

The God did what He came to do and covered the offense, giving His little people a second chance to be with Him in that very special place. The only thing He asked was for them to trust Him this time. To trust that He was enough for them. That satisfaction was found in Him alone. 

And many of them did. A fairytale ending.

They lived happily ever after in a very special and magical Kingdom created just to celebrate that Great God, and to be together with Him for eternity and so much more...

Wanting us to live, God was killed on a tree. 
And now we are, in every way imaginable, free.

Foolishness, utter foolishness, I know. Not just foolishness, and magical, and childish, and crazy, but offensive. Completely offensive. 

The Gospel is the most offensive story ever told and, if you're human, you ought to be offended.

How dare God claim that I cannot be Him. How dare He say that I need more than just myself and empty idols to get by. How dare He say that I am the problem and that He is the solution. I am the master of my universe!

Dear reader, as foolish as it sounds, I stand happily offended and confess that I am in need of Jesus. I can't do this on my own and when I try, I make a big mess of things. I confess that the trees I run to for comfort, power, approval, and control leave me striped naked, cold, and all the hungrier. I confess that I am not God and can never be enough to satisfy myself. Neither can you.

On this Good Friday I am reminded of the foolishness of the Gospel. The offensive doctrine of Christianity. The backwards, illogical, magical story of a loving God and His Redemptive heart for us that continues even now.

I look at myself in the mirror and find i'm wanting with desires nothing can satisfy. I feel alone. I do not believe I was made to. Articulated better than I am able, C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

May the utter foolishness of the Gospel crash hard down upon the little lives we spin. May it transform our hearts, communities, and our world beyond our wildest dreams. And may we be, in every way

Come, friends and let's be fools together.


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