Now, before all six of my skimmers (who really reads this thing anyway?) get up in arms over the title, it’s satire. Secondly, there’s a little truth to it. That is, this is the belief that seems to permeate Western morality, and indeed, has firmly planted itself within popular theology. And although you aren’t likely to hear them offer such a statement word-for-word, this kind of thinking has wormed itself into contemporary approaches to ministry. I’m betting you’ve seen it.
I’ve written about such things before. Yet, shocking as it might be, my scribbling here wasn’t enough to beat back the deafening suck of empty theology. It continues to abound.
And just as it always has, it continues to end up pointing to a sappy, sentimental, Buddy Jesus. You know the one. He’s the guy who just speaks gently, always with a smile, and tells you everything’s just ok. He’d just run through rolling meadows with you and just love to spend time with you, and just sit quietly and just bask in the just togetherness just basking and just drinking in just you. He just does a lot. One thing Buddy Jesus is just wild about is telling you just how much potential is in you, just how really super neat you are—how totally, colossally important you are. You’re so important that Buddy Jesus just wants to hear how much you just love him and how sensually you can describe your relationship with him.
But there’s more. You see, with all that importance, with all that potential, there really isn’t time or space for any consideration of sin. But that’s so great, because Buddy Jesus isn’t about sin. Why get all bogged down in that sin stuff? There’s no fun in that. It’s really not seeker-friendly, and Buddy Jesus knows that seekers—those special people who feel so spiritual and are just waiting for someone to give them a new best friend—are the most important people on the planet. But more than that, sin can be a little bit depressing. I mean, we’d much rather hear how totally together we are, how well and truly great we are.
So the proclamation of the Law is marginalized because we simply don’t believe it. There’s no room for ugly. There’s no room in a contemporary outlook for discomfort or uneasiness. With no sin there’s no need for Law, and then there’s no need for Gospel, and we get a Jesus who just sort of wants to chill with us. Throw in a little information on how to maximize that wonderful potential and you’ve got a relevant church in 2007.
We’re so relevant that we’ve forgotten how to exercise church discipline. And people know this. If ever we do, the process is hamstrung because the erring brother or sister sees it merely as a punitive measure, but what’s more they know that time is on the side of their sin. They can wait it out, because they know the church will eventually lose its resolve. Or they’ll simply cut ties and run to somewhere more ‘loving’—someplace where, in their enlightened understanding, they’ve long since abandoned all that silly old talk about sin and Satan (it’s sooo 1950s). They don’t want church. They want an institutional enabler. Sadly, they’ll find it.
Their problem is that Buddy Jesus is a figment, and anyone preaching him is answerable for it. That’s not to say that Jesus would never “hang out.” But it’s not what the Son of God came to earth to do. He came because sin really is a problem. It’s a problem that is within us, taking up all that space where any potential might have been. It’s a problem with a solution that is so far beyond the best of us that it took the death and resurrection of God’s Son to solve it. He didn’t just do anything about it. He died a violent death by any human standard. And more than that, He died under the curse of the sin of all creation. There’s nothing just about any of that (in any sense of the word). This weekend is the celebration of that sacrifice, that victory. This weekend is a testimony to the enormous problem of sin. But it’s also a testimony to the even bigger solution for that problem.
And yet there is truth to this post title. For the hack theologians, it’s an inconvenient truth. Sin is a problem. But for the baptized children of God, washed in the river flowing from Jesus’ pierced side, who feast upon His flesh and drink His blood, sin isn’t the problem it used to be. Jesus Christ took that problem upon Himself. The redeemed of God need not fear sin. Those who have been given faith in Jesus Christ do not receive the due punishment for sin. But He didn’t merely give us a chuck on the shoulder and an attaboy. Christ bore the punishment for sin in His own body. He took the punishment for us. As we celebrate His Passover from death to life over these next days, may you be reminded that God has brought you from death to life as well in His Son Jesus Christ.