Christ, Sin And Death.
As a kid, I found incredulous the responses Christians had readily given to those who’ve gone through the sort of tragedy for which a slight resentment towards God could arguably be justified. “God has a plan” — and it’s mysterious, by the way — is the kind of riposte to tragedy that can undoubtedly, at least to my mind, make a cynic out of the most impetuously romantic. Even the certainty with which it is so often said, seemed to me to be almost an expression of brazen insolence in the face of misery. The idea that only by way of tragedy can some ultimate good be realized was somewhat unintelligible –morally unintelligible –, for, despite that we might all agree something good can come out of an evil, the notion that misery, tragedy, suffering and death are indispensable conditions for God’s creation, seemed to be too effete a lifeboat in the proverbial storm for one to be able to take comfort in. Because if the nature of creation were such that the final act is one for which each scene was a necessary precursor, and the ultimate synthesis, though ultimately good, is one for which every single element of evil is a necessary constituent, then it seems to render God not just reprehensible but loathesome; for how could anyone reasonably square the incongruity of ultimate goodness — His goodness — being realizable not regardless of, but only by way of pure and indiscriminate evil.
“For love of man, I reject it” says Ivan of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karmazov, and then blasphemously proclaims “It is not worth the tears of that one tortured child.” Because, while them Christians unapologetically tell us that it is, one wonders whether they can really say it without feeling a tad embarrassed in front of the Afghan girl at whom battery acid was poured, and for reasons with which we are all too familiar? If the metaphysics of evil is such that it is, then God, with respect to the Afghan girl, had been complicit — or so I once argued.
The answers I was to find were more profound than I could ever have expected, and have been laid out in front of me unnoticed for longer than I would be apt to admit.
Christianity, I’ve been told, is a religion of salvation. And the resurrection is the one aspect without which everything doesn’t work; “If Jesus Christ wasn’t raised” says the apostle Paul, “your faith is worthless.” In the passion and resurrection, around which Christianity is centered, lies the profoundness of our faith: we are told from the beginning there was a path from which we’ve strayed, and thus our nature, as it is, is a fallen one; “He was in the world, and the world was made through him. Yet the world did not recognize him” (John 1:10). Sin and death, far from being necessary harbingers of the good, are His ancient enemies that have blinded us to Him.
And He saw the world filled with suffering, and because He loved the world, He chose not the only thing He could do, but the best thing He could do: He chose to suffer with it — with us.
This man whom they call the Christ, was scourged till much of flesh hung from bone, thorns pressed into his scalp and forehead causing him immeasurably excruciating pain, and was nailed to a cross with a spear thrusted into his side.
It was the ultimate blasphemy of its time; for Gods don’t die, much less at the hands of men, and the uniqueness of Christianity is that He did die, and by those very hands, because the God who breaks asunder the clutches of death and sin, is the same God who knelt before us to wash our feet. And in His humility and suffering were we made witness to His love, and in His resurrection, were we made the same to His victory over death.
And we can rest assured that a path to our ancient destiny — Adam’s destiny — has been paved through Christ, and out of this bovine waste.. ‘He will make all things new, and will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death.’