Thursday, March 14, 2013

The cross is God’s way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments. 

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, there is his work.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

(Scripture Text: Ex 32:7-14)
The LORD said to Moses,
“Go down at once to your people
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
‘This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’
The LORD said to Moses,
“I see how stiff-necked this people is.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation.”

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
“Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Why should the Egyptians say,
‘With evil intent he brought them out,
that he might kill them in the mountains
and exterminate them from the face of the earth’?
Let your blazing wrath die down;
relent in punishing your people. 
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’“
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.

Question: Is the Exodus passage really about Moses shaming God into calming down, growing up, and taking responsibility for his actions? Or, is the passage about God testing Moses to see what type of leader he will be?

God gives Moses the chance to pull the plug on the Israelites. They have given Moses nothing but grief. Hey, Moses, I can kill them and start over. Are you sick of them enough yet? By the way, I can really make a name for you. I will create a whole new nation out of you. Moses, though, shows himself to be a father to the nation. He loves them in spite of their sins. If Moses sounds more like God in the passage than God does, it is only because God gives him the chance to grow and to be the type of leader Israel truly needs. The psalmist says that Moses stood in the breach between the people and God’s destructive wrath. He is tried in the crucible and purified. God gives him every chance to take the easy road and he refuses.

How about you, did you choose the “easy road” as opposed to carrying your cross?

In the lives of each of us there may be something painful, big or small, something that we wish to be different. In the lives of each of us there is a cross. The cross can be caused by somebody else, or we may bring a cross on ourselves due to our choices or sometimes the cross is neither the fault of others nor ourselves, but because of the accidents of life or simply because we are human and do not have the perfection of God.

One of the mysteries of life is to receive the grace that accompanies our cross. It is important not to become stuck in any of the stages we can go through when responding to suffering. So it is important to move from
1.                      denial
2.                      to anger
3.                      to bargaining
4.                      to anger with ourselves or depression
5.                      to acceptance of our cross and grace.

I think there is something holy about our cross. It keeps us close to God. When there is some pain in our lives, when we have to carry a cross we depend more on God. I think it is part of God’s mysterious plan that we carry a cross because it keeps us close to God. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said that sufferings are the kisses of Jesus in our lives.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

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