getting in a stew about the cross (or getting cross about a stew)

Stew the Rabbit and I are about to visit another school this morning. It will be his first visit there and I hope he is well-behaved. He is going to try a magic trick which may or may not come off…

The theme will be exploring crosses. an ‘x’ can be a sign that you got something wrong as well as a sign that someone loves you. Which seems like a helpful way to explain the Easter cross to Key Stage 1 and 2 children.

Last night at Alpha we looked at ‘Why did Jesus die’, and I was pleased that the Alpha material offers four different models of the atonement. I think we seriously underplay the significance of the cross of Jesus if we only concentrate on penal substitution – even in a less aggressive form. It means so much more than that, and if we only focus on that we may also exclude people for whom that model of the atonement does not resonate. Why do we think God inspired people to come up with other models?

I think I may be turning into Steve Chalke! (Except he has hair, runs marathons and Oasis, is much cooler than me and… [insert lots of other differences here]). If in doubt, read ‘The Lost Message of Jesus‘.

I wonder if this is part of what Paul meant when he wrote that he became all things to all people in order to win some for the kingdom of God. To the Jews he used a temple metaphor, to the Greeks he used philosophy… So how are we packaging the gospel today? Which model of the atonement will bless the people you meet today?

I think in some ways it requires us to see things differently – to look at the same gospel through lenses tinted by our culture.

An elderly lady was well-known for her faith and for her boldness in talking about it. She would stand on her front porch and shout “PRAISE THE LORD!” 

Next door to her lived an atheist who would get so angry at her proclamations he would shout, “There ain’t no Lord!!” 

Hard times set in on the elderly lady, and she prayed for GOD to send her some assistance. She stood on her porch and shouted “PRAISE THE LORD. GOD I NEED FOOD!! I AM HAVING A HARD TIME. PLEASE LORD, SEND ME SOME GROCERIES!!” 

The next morning the lady went out on her porch and noted a large bag of groceries and shouted, “PRAISE THE LORD.” 

The neighbour jumped from behind a bush and said, “Aha! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries, God didn’t.” 

The lady started jumping up and down and clapping her hands and said, “PRAISE THE LORD. He not only sent me groceries, but He made a non-believer pay for them. Praise the Lord!”

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