"Miss Anne, is it wrong for me to believe it was Jesus who asked my forgiveness?"....she put her hand on her hip, "So why wouldn't Jesus humble himself and tell a boy he was sorry for letting him down if he knew it would heal his heart?"
from Jesus, my Father, The CIA and Me by Ian Morgan Cron
One of my oldest and best friends in the world is Don. I know of no one who integrates the best of being a Christian and what ministry should be better than he does. He also tells me about books I would never read but should. It was Don who told me about Cron's book. So I bought 12 copies to give to my Tuesday morning men's Bible study and recommended it on the church website, without reading it.
So this past Tuesday after talking about Psalm 123, I asked the guys what they thought of the book thus far. A few of them mumbled something (we meet at 6:30 in the morning, so there is a lot of meaningful mumbling.) But one person said he was troubled by Cron's believing Jesus spoke to him during a church service, asking Cron to forgive him (i.e.Jesus) for allowing him to suffer so much as a child. I had not gotten that far in the book and it occurred to me that recommending books I had not read my not be the best policy.
Now anyone who hears the voice of Jesus-real or imagined, makes me a little nervous. But it was the idea that God would/should/could ask for forgiveness that concerned the other fellow the most. "That disavows the whole point of the book of Job," he proclaimed. Good point
God is God
We are not.
God is good We have sinned Jesus died for our sins.
The essence of the faith seems to be fairly straightforward. But maybe there is room for infinite mystery in the spaces around the Gospel story. The more I reflect on it, the stranger the Cross becomes. Its meaning fails to be contained in any single version of the atonement. "Christ paying our ransom,' "Christ the substitute," "Christ the exemplar of love," "Christ the victor," "The crucified God"-frankly I find merit and lacking in all of these theories or images of the meaning of Christ's death.
So could the cross be God saying I am sorry? Why not? Could you not hear these additional "last words of Christ" from the Cross. "I am sorry that life can be so hard, trust me I know." "I am sorry you are in so much pain, me too." "I am sorry you had to watch (fill in the blank) die." "I am sorry for all the tsunamis, and earth quakes and famines and plagues, and particularly capital punishment on this given Friday." I am sorry that you are lonely and probably just could use a hug, but being that I am up here, I cannot help you out. "And I am sorry that I did not intervene and change (fill in the blank) so they would not have (fill in the blank) and everything would have had a happy ending-I got the same answer in Gethsemane."
If you found anything in the preceding paragraph offensive: good! You might be closer to understanding the scandal of the Cross. I can argue why none of the above is God's fault. But that does not help someone in the depths of despair, hurt and anger. There are times when reason, theological solutions, and the big picture do not help. There are some tragedies and deep sorrows that seem to beg for a voice from the depths of the cosmos shattering the silence with "I am really sorry." Maybe the silence of God in the face of the Cross is
such an apology.
I once was talking to a friend about something awful. He said, "I want to say to God-what the (you fill in the blank)! How can You (God) be letting this happen? I feel awful that I feel this way, but it is really hard to believe." I responded by saying it sounds to me like a pretty good prayer. Maybe not a goodnight prayer for children or a public prayer for Sunday morning, but it certainly has a psalm-like quality to it. I pray everyday that he will experience something of a two-way mercy from God.
I read the aforementioned section in Cron that Tuesday night. I am still not sold on his writing, but I was glad that God had given him what he needed. Because there is no limits to the Divine love, then there are no restraints on the extant of the Divine humility. Maybe God is powerful enough to transcend our rules for what is and is not appropriate God-like behavior. I think all bets are off when it comes to a deity that would be incarnate in a unwed teenage mother, born in a cave, and killed as a capital criminal all for the love of a barely evolving species. If Christ "suffers the children to come" to him, certainly he will do what it takes to heal the child that suffers. And at last count, that population is growing at an astronomical rate.