Nietzsche said God is dead, which is bad news, because madness follows when we find ourselves an insignificant part of a meaningless universe, mere grains of sand. We cling to the reality of a material world that even science considers illusory and uncertain. It is not what we think. All is vanity, utterly insane – if it were true.
But, what if the world is different from what we imagine and not meaningless at all? What if the claims of a man born 2,000 years ago are the truth? Claims that led his followers to willingly die for what they believed. The truth that God is alive and loves us. Even when we had our backs turned to him, he did not turn his back to us, but reached into our world by becoming a man and living amongst us – not as a king, but a servant, a servant who humbled himself to the point of death on a cross. Such was God’s love.
Now, Jesus did not come as a messenger only, but to show us. To demonstrate a God coming not in power, but in weakness. A weakness that could not be overcome, even by death. Yet, he did it for us, not as part of a job lot, thrown in with the rest of humanity in some package deal. No, we are each uniquely important and individually loved. His death was personal. He suffered and died for us personally, though we had rejected him.
Too good to be true? His followers did not think so. They had seen Jesus raised from the dead and it shook them. Death was no longer the same and they could face it. For it was not a message that changed them, not an idea, but a man whose life could not be extinguished and who showed them God.
There is more good news. A lot happened at the cross, a deep mystery that only the foolhardy claim to understand. It was a turning point in history, a doorway that opens the way back to God and beyond that door lies a kingdom. A kingdom that creation itself is longing for – but that is another story. Yet, there truth Jesus showed enabled his disciples to face persecution, even to being burnt alive, even to being fed to lions, in peace. God was worth following. The victory was already his.
We were like prodigals with our backs turned on God, yet he awaited our return with open arms. A return through following Jesus and the life that he showed, turning away from our past and back to God. We may not have pasts to be proud of, I certainly am not about mine, but our greatest crime, our greatest folly, was when we turned our backs on God, yet he forgave us. Our lives become caught up in Jesus and he delivers us from our folly, reconciled back to God, through the mystery of the cross. I find it unbelievable that he considered me worth dying for, his life too precious to waste on me. Yet it is true and I can attest to it. At the time I heard, I was undone and all that was left for me was to repent.
This was not the God anyone was expecting. A God of love. A God of life. A life that cannot be stopped and that we begin to experience now. Citizens of another kingdom, being established on earth as in heaven. No wonder the disciples were no longer afraid.