As we sat in our Good Friday service this morning, I found my eyes drawn to the wooden cross that is placed on the platform at Easter. Quite unexpectedly, I found myself wondering at its dimensions.It suddenly seemed small and a little too sanitised. I found myself wanting it to be made of heavy cross beams, rough cut and less regular, rather than two pieces of neat, clean 6 by 4.
Do we sanitise our faith?
It made me wonder: Do we sanitise our faith? Do we reduce it to meet our experience? We have been disappointed before, so we don’t want to expect too much. Yes, we are happy to hope for eternal life when we die, but we’re not looking for or anticipating much, here...now...today.
A verse that has been prominent in my thoughts the last week or so is from Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” I have been reading Dutch Sheets' book “The Power of Hope”, where he discusses the results of living in a place where we feel as though hope has been deferred too long, too often, which include loss of faith and courage. We stop believing for big things, and the things that seem big in our lives grow bigger again, with a life of their own, becoming bigger than God Himself in our perception.
One of the songs we sang this morning is “The Power of the Cross”. At Easter, we celebrate that Jesus overcame the power of death, and yet, we struggle to believe that we, through Him, can overcome the power of our limitations, struggles and sin here and now. It is easier to live small and defeated lives, because, underneath, we believe the adage, “Blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed”.
But this was not what Jesus promised; this is not what He came for, and certainly not what He died for.
When Jesus said that He had come to bring life that we might have it to the fullest, when He said that He had come to give the blind sight, to make the lame walk, to set the captives free, this was far more than just physical (although that would blow most of us away). He came so that we could see the reality of what it means to be sons and daughters of the Most High God, that we could walk, leap and run without being weighed down by our experiences of the past, and that we could live the free and abundant life of knowing we are loved unconditionally, that there is nothing more we have to do.
I don't want a faith that lacks power, and I don't want it for those around me, either.
If we are serious about wanting to make a difference in this world, we cannot afford to continue to accept mediocre, wishy-washy, ‘expect little’ faith. If we are serious about wanting to make a difference in this world, it is time we get things back in proportion, back to the size they should be.
If the cross (and I mean all that the cross signifies) is central to our faith, then we need to make it real and make it big in all its power and force and beautiful ugliness. It has to match with the reality that death was the last obstacle Jesus overcame to give us abundant life here and now.
Are you prepared to come to that place where you get real, get down and dirty, and lay it all on the line with God?
Because it is here, and only here that transformation begins and it is only from here that we connect with the power to transform the world.