I feel as I enter into my late thirties I often ponder the question what is the appropriate response to Christ and Him crucified. The more I get small glimpses of the glory, horror and beauty of the cross I cannot help but feel like my response is massively anemic. Jesus deserves far more of an offering of love from me, as well as a far greater overflow to everyone else around me. It seems to me that love should send me into the hardest darkest places on the planet just as Christ willingly left the heights of glory for me.
The main wrestle of my heart that surfaces as I wrestle through these issues is that of the intrinsic depravity of the human heart. I look at the poor of the earth and my heart is stirred to help and make a difference, but is this stirring mostly a humanistic sympathy? It seems that the banner over most justice movements is “people deserve better” but can I truly say I believe that? What does humanity deserve? Well the scriptures are clear... Every human deserves eternal punishment in a lake of fire (i.e. Rom. 3) . But do I really believe that? Do I really believe that I deserve to burn incessantly forever without reprieve for my sin? I am faced with the reality of the pride and dullness of my own heart. Could it be that I have sympathy for the poor mostly because I am still a humanist? So what should I do then? Should I quit? Should I stop trying to touch the poor? I know emphatically that the answer is NO. I know that I am called to touch the poor, but how can I do this with a pure heart? What should be my driving motivation?
Well what motivated Christ to come for me? Was it because I deserved a chance to repent? Was He obligated to offer me a way back to the Father? No, He would be perfectly just if He did the Noah flood thing all over again. But here is the mystery of Godliness. God looks down sees the depth of depravity, the depth of hatred, rebellion, immorality and pride and still loves His image bearers that have infinitely marred His image. Why? What kind of love would drive Him to do something that goes beyond all that seems right? Because it would be right/just for Him to let us all burn. Then why doesn’t He? Why does He desire for all to be saved? Why is He long-suffering with us?
I think to raise up a true justice movement we need a whole company of people who have touched the spirit of revelation over how low Jesus came in the incarnation and how far he descended from glory at the cross to reach us/me.... The undeserving wretch. If I see His majesty then I will see the severity of sin and I will see His great reach to bridge that infinite gap. The incarnation and the cross will forever stand at the peak of all “movements of Justice”. If I see myself as the most undeserving but chased down by the infinite love of the Godman then it would only be right to then in turn to go to the most underserving and offer them that same love that knows no bounds.
However, If I stop and only see the depravity of man then I may say “all men deserve far worse” and stop there with no action (which I regretfully confess I have been guilty of many times). But if I have my starting point as Jesus and see Him with revelation hanging, bleeding on that cross then I will be motivated to love the unlovable, embrace the rotten filth of this world, since that is what He did by coming to me. So my starting point is to reckon with what I truly deserve and the great mercy I have received in light of the cross. When this collides in my heart I know I will be thrust into the bringing justice to the poor with great fervor that will not wane.
Until then I resolve to care for the poor with this mixture of heart knowing that a completely pure heart motivation will not be found in me until I am encased in a resurrected body. And I resolve to contend for the revelation of the cross of Christ which is the answer to every question.... just go sit and gaze and another facet of the glory of our crucified LORD will answer all the questions of this life. I may not fully understand and be able to put into language all the answers but what I can do is direct all to go and stare at the God-man on that tree with eyes of faith and they too will become silently satisfied under this glory. Living understanding of this cross will indeed thrust us far beyond every other humanistic justice initiative that man has come up with. If it is not Jesus it is not Justice.