The JollyBlogger is struggling with Terminal Cancer himself, you can hear his story in this brief video interview of him. He is a Presbyterian pastor and blogger who I ran into a long time ago (when I first started blogging); his bout with cancer is relatively recent (as far as his diagnosis, within the last year). I think you’ll really be moved by his testimony, he gives an awesome telling of the Theology of the Cross; the wisdom of God is right at the heart of things, and David Wayne and Clayton both know this very well. Maybe you’re not facing terminal cancer, nevertheless we all have suffering of some sort (fighting against sin can cause this); it is in that place where we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ most clearly!
Jesus was all about being scandalous, in fact the Apostle Paul calls the cross skandalon or the ‘Stumbling Block’ (hey that sounds familiar); but from whose perspective?
In I Corinthians 1 (hey I know something about that 😉 ) Paul says:
. . . but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a skandalon [stumbling block] and to Gentiles foolishness, . . .
Of course it is not from the Christian’s perspective, here’s ours:
. . . but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Notice the symmetry between the Jew’s ‘stumbling block’ [the Christian’s ‘power of God’], and the Gentile’s foolishness [the Christian’s ‘wisdom of God’]. Either way, the point is that all of ‘unregenerate humanity’ views the cross of Christ as completely impotent to produce any kind of real transformation; any kind of answer to what the unbeliever believes is necessary for genuine power and wisdom to be realized. Thus the cross of Christ will always seem ‘scandalous’, it all has to do with ‘expectations’; and these expectations are formed either by God’s or man’s.
Indeed, increasingly the ‘Church of Christ’ is, just like the church at Corinth, coming to view (and in fact, by-and-large has) the ‘crucified life of God’ as both foolish and weak. For the church, the cross of Christ, should not be a ‘scandal’, it should not be ‘foolish’; this is the world’s approach to the cross. Of course the cross, for the believer, is a daily reality — we are always being given over to the death of Christ that His life might be made manifest through the mortal members of our body — we are constantly reminded by our own foibles and confusions how desperately we need Christ’s cross . . . and the fact that the cross is not the end. The wisdom of God, the wisdom and the life of God, is vindicated (in a linear sense of thinking) by what the cross initiated; and that is the ‘Great Reversal’ accomplished at the resurrection. This is why the cross is wise and powerful, because it meets us where we are, it takes us to where we ‘should’ end up; and then beckons us to a place that we should not ‘really’ be — situated within the very life of God. The wisdom of the cross is God’s wisdom because it is God’s power because it is God’s life!
So if you are a Christian, then you/we need to be about skandalizing the world with the cross of Christ — it’s good for them — and we should know, it was and is good for us in Christ!
Well, we just got back from the mausoleum in Portland where we buried my great grandpa; I had the honor of praying before he was encrypted. The theme of my prayer of course was the resurrection, and the hope that this engenders for all those who love Jesus. The reality of the moment was quite tangible as I stood next to great grandpa’s casket, and all the tombs of those who had already passed on. For some reason the passage of Scripture that hit me at that moment was:
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. — Matthew 27: 51-53
of course this was the event which took place after Jesus’s resurrection and foreshadows the ultimate resurrection which we all will experience as result of placing our trust in Jesus Christ. The thought that great grandpa’s body will rise from that tomb on that great day is overwhelming. What a great hope! Even greater is to realize that great grandpa is experiencing the first fruits of the resurrection even now; he indeed, “… is absent from the body, but present with the Lord …” — although he is longing to be clothed with his glorified body (see second Corinthians 5: 1 ff).
One more poignant thought that hit me today was how much sense Christianity actually makes abductively or comparatively. In other words Christianity is so natural, in the supernatural sense of that word. To clarify, what I mean is that Christianity makes sense in light of the reality of life. We’re born, we live, we die. Christianity answers for what, when, who, why were born, live, and die. I can’t think of any other belief system that fundamentally answers all of these questions, without struggling. The resurrection of Jesus Christ provides the purpose and anticipation for all of life. The resurrection provides objective telos for all of reality as it re-creates fallen-ness towards its ultimate point in the eschaton. This was the hope I was contemplating today as we buried my great grandpa … The Great Hope That Will Never Disappoint!