Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Frame Pt 3

When suffering, Presence often trumps Answers.  God always offers the first without always providing the second.

This is the frame I use to answer the questions I get that start with, "Why would God...?"  I get those a lot.  When I do and I have a moment to explain my response, I give them the four pieces of this frame before dealing with the particular question.  Granted, people can reject the frame or the answer that comes because of it, but I don't have a better way of helping them understand life today and life forever and how they both work if not by this framework.  Today, I'll take the third piece of the frame and give a brief explanation of it.  I titled it Sacrificial Rescue.

We love movies where sacrifice wins the day, the girl, the war, the fight.  Think about Saving Private Ryan or BraveHeart or Schindler's List or any of a number of other movies.  Part of the reason I think that theme is universal in its appeal is the need that we all have in common.  Our broken world is interrupted by the personal God who comes on a rescue mission, a rescue we desperately need.

Jesus Christ is the Rescuer.  He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19.10) but couldn't do so by breaking people out of jail.  It's not that kind of rescue.  He is the Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks in SPR) in the story who sacrifices His life for the sake of someone else.  But it's more than that too.

He doesn't rescue us in spite of the brokenness of the world - remember, we're the cause of it.  He rescues us precisely because the world is broken.  He Himself becomes a part of the brokenness through coming as a man.  But more than that, He takes the brokenness on Himself and lets it crush Him.  This is what happened at the cross.

On the cross, Jesus sacrificed Himself to rescue us.  We stand under the just condemnation of God because of our rebellion.  But Jesus took the condemnation, dying on the cross in our place.  When we are united to Jesus Christ through faith, God counts His death as ours and attributes His standing as ours.  This is what Martin Luther calls the Great Exchange, wherein Jesus took our sin and stood in our place in order that we might have His righteousness and stand with Him before God.

If you've been around church, you've probably heard that story before.  But the question remains of how this piece helps us understand why bad things happen.  Part of the answer lies in the method of rescue.  Jesus understood brokenness and suffering.  God is not immune or deaf.  Jesus Christ is not a religious figurine - He is a faithful and empathetic savior who knows what it means to suffer.

So even if you don't get all the answers you may want, you at least have someone with you in the suffering.  And presence often trumps information, especially when struggling.

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