Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter: An Absurd Celebration

“You mean to tell me God became a baby… and that he was born in a sheep stable… And then after becoming a baby, he was raised in a blue collar home? He never wrote any books or held any offices, yet called himself the Son of God… He never traveled outside of his own country, never studied at a university, never lived in a palace, and yet asked to be regarded as the creator of the universe… And this crucifixion story… he was betrayed by his own people? No followers came to his defense? And then he was executed like a common junkyard thief… And after the killing, he was buried in a borrowed grave… And according to what’s written, after three days in the grave he was resurrected and made appearances to over five hundred people… and all this was to prove that God still loves his people and provides a way for us to return to him… Doesn’t that all sound rather… Doesn’t that all sound rather absurd?”

“Yes. Yes, I suppose it does sound absurd... “

How absurd to think that such nobility would go to such poverty to share a treasure with such thankless souls.

But he did.

In fact, the only thing more absurd than the gift is our stubborn unwillingness to receive it.
“God Came Near”, Max Lucado (emphasis added)

The above quote summarizes a chapter in Lucado’s book; I love the way he causes us to think outside the box!

The reality is that God’s love for us is painfully absurd. Why would He waste the time on us, yet alone go to such great steps of humiliation and suffering… it’s a love that demonstrates strength through what the world would consider weakness: degraded, impoverished, falsely accused, lonely, beaten, and hung naked until breathing His last! The depths of pain that He willingly walked through while praying for those that tormented Him showed His great character.

But the life and death of Jesus would be meaningless without His resurrection. Without the resurrection, it could easily be argued that Jesus was a fool for following His beliefs to the grave, and that in the end, he was destroyed by others stronger than himself. However, His resurrection demonstrates that the perceived weakness of the Messiah was really a reflection of great strength… a strength that flowed from His obedience to the Father’s love: “No one takes my life from me. I give my life of my own free will. I have the authority to give my life, and I have the authority to take my life back again. This is what my Father ordered me to do." (John 10:18)

Man thinks pretty highly of himself. We create skyscrapers, worldwide computer networks, and classify the genetic code. But in the end, we’re still just God want-to-be’s (see Genesis 3:5). But with all that, there’s a longing in our hearts. As pointed out by the philosopher, Pascal, each man has a God shaped hole that longs to be filled. We are incomplete and longing for completion. We are lonely and needing companionship. We were made to be loved, and we were made to love.

Another philosopher, Albert Camus, acknowledged this reluctantly. Although he considered himself to be an atheist, Camus admitted his longing for "salvation and meaning" after having been influenced by the writings of Augustine. It’s ironic that Camus is known as the originator of Absurdism. Isn’t it more absurd, to refuse the gift of love that He passionately and repeatedly offers us?

So, yes, God’s love for us is absurdly undeserved, and I believe His way of showing us is meant to contrast our differences. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are far beyond ours. So I reaffirm what I recognized decades ago: that God is a better God than I could ever be. His power is more than I can imagine and His love is so much more than I can ever fully grasp!

“Hallelujah! The Lord is Risen! … Christ is risen indeed, hallelujah!”

copyright ©2011 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)