The Unreasonable Greatness of the Easter Cross

I never got an Easter basket as a kid. But apparently Easter baskets are a big deal. It’s like Christmas in April for some. Search “Easter basket” on Google and you get a smattering of options for gifts to get kids. Want healthy snacks? There’s an option for that. Want to personalize it with your kids’ names? Done. Want to do it yourself? There’s suggestions for that.

I could sit here and write about how commercialized Easter is and how it’s a shame, how it’s meant to be for Jesus! But that’s not the point of what I want to say today.

We want to be given things we don’t deserve. It’s in our human nature. And, usually, we tend to appreciate those things more than things we earn. We get a paycheck and we think nothing of it because we’ve gone into the office, we’ve put in the time, we’ve done the work, and we’ve earned what we’ve gotten.

But when our loved one gets us a gift just ’cause, it means so much more. We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t work to earn it. They just gave it to us because they wanted to, no matter how good or bad we’ve been to them recently. In hindsight, it doesn’t necessarily make sense.

And that’s the beauty of grace. The cross is a symbol of God’s power that makes the unreasonable possible.

It’s not reasonable that we would be given a free gift.

Free gifts are usually things that come as add-ons to something we buy. You know those TV commercials…

But in the case of the cross, the free gift is salvation through Christ, and we didn’t have to buy a year’s subscription of God Illustrated to get it. As Romans 5:15 reminds us, “…For if many died through the one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.”

It’s not reasonable that God would overlook our flaws.

The world makes a habit of bringing your flaws back up. If you search “Brian Williams lies” on YouTube, you’ll get hundreds of results of “lie compilations” and clips of the news anchor lying about different things he’s done and witnessed while reporting on location.

But in the case of the cross, our flaws are not remembered. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1 says. The things we’ve done in the past do not count against our record. There is no depth of sin I can go to that the Father’s love is not deeper than. I can never sink too low for God to not love me.

It’s not reasonable that Jesus would lay down His life for His enemies.

We don’t like our enemies. We would rather see our enemies die than die for them.

Jesus died for us while we were still enemies. There is no greater love than that a man would lay down his life for his friends, right? What’s even greater about Christ’s death is that He called us friends, even though we were enemies, and laid down His life for us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The cross is unreasonable because it is the symbol of unreasonable actions by a God who doesn’t operate by human reason. Its unreasonableness is its greatest attribute, because by it we get what is not supposed to be ours.

That’s the greatness of the Easter cross.


God’s Faithfulness Is Eternal…Even If I Feel Crummy

I’m a pretty emotional guy. I tend to let my feelings and emotions get the better of me in a lot of situations.

Sometimes it can be a good thing. Last night, I stayed up until 1 a.m. looking at old Facebook pictures, all the way back to high school, up to high school graduation, freshman year of college, different summer activities. It was a little emotional, I admit. A good thing. Nostalgic. It’s time to move on and it’s a little emotional. It brought some joy to look back.

shutterstock_1122256641Sometimes it can be a not-so-good thing. Sometimes we can take the littlest thing and make it such a big deal. For instance, there’s always that moment when you see that someone has read your text and they’re not typing a response. That can be a little frustrating in this day and age, especially if you’re expecting a response. Maybe it’s just me. But sometimes I have little patience. And I feel frustrated.

The one thing that the above examples show you about me is that my emotions are not stable very often. And I’d be willing to wager that there are others out there whose emotions go back and forth like a ticking clock.

Often, I find myself attributing my feelings to how God feel about me. If I feel crummy, then I assume God feels crummy about me. That’s the Spirit moving, right? That’s the Spirit telling me that I’ve got work to do, right?

Silly me.

One of my favorite quotes is from a guy named Curtis Allen. He’s a pastor and rapper in the DC area. While speaking at the Campus Outreach New Year’s Conference this past New Year’s, he said this:

The secret to Christianity is not changing how you feel, the secret to Christianity and obedience is changing how you think.

That’s stuck with me, I think because it’s profoundly true. I want to focus more on how this applies to God’s faithfulness to us.

There might be times where we feel God feels crummy about us. We think, “Oh, look at my sin. I just flat out am not cutting it. God must hate me.”  So not true. If we’re Christians, God loves us in spite of how we feel He’s thinking. And He will love us eternally.

What happens in those situations is that we begin to trust our feelings above the Word of God. We look at the Bible and we say, “OK, yeah, those promises about God’s love for me, they’re only true for me when I’m being fully obedient the way I think I should be. When I’m sinless, when I do everything right, I’ll accept that God actually loves me.”

Eh. Not the way to approach it.

I’ve had to learn that lesson a lot this year. As an emotional guy, I tend to be in that vein of thinking. But I’ve had to continually remind myself to bring to mind promises of Scripture, like…

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6-7

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

I love the Romans 5:8 verse because it says “God shows.” It’s not “God showed.” The present tense of the verb implies that it is an ongoing thing, a continual state of the display of God’s love for us. Christ’s death on the cross is not conditional on our good behavior. To think that would be to mock everything He came to do.

Yet I mock it.

I need to continually learn to change how I think I remind myself of the power of the truth of Scripture. That God loves me unconditionally. No matter how I feel. No matter what I might think.