If you’ve attended mainline churches of late, one thing that you might have missed is any notion that Jesus Christ suffered and died a heinous death. A death that we would never inflict on even our worst criminals — “cruel and unusual” punishment.
I write “mainline churches” meaning places like the Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, and Episcopal Church. Churches that might better be described as the Church of the Fluffy Bunny (CoTFB), where never is heard a discouraging word.
Evil? Sin? Only Republicans and evangelicals do that sort of thing. Hell? How judgmental; God loves everyone, without exception. Didn’t you all know that we are all going to heaven? Jesus is all about inclusion and healing. And forgiveness; let’s not forget forgiveness. Never mind that you’ve got to stop sinning; that’s just a detail for the narrow-minded.
Jesus Christ is first and foremost about bearing the burden of our sin on his shoulders. To the point of him being tortured and killed. For you. For me. For those who attend the CoTFB and don’t want to hear about such a “stumbling bloc.”
But the blood and guts and suffering of Jesus on his cross is what it took to put paid the sins of our species. And it is what every Christian must preach if he is to be true. From 1 Corinthians 1:
23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
The stumbling block is also accompanied by another obstacle that stands between us and God: the prideful notion that we are, somehow, like God in our wisdom.
We are not. And when we only hear good news in church, as opposed to the Good News, we do not get around that obstacle. Life is good, but it is also harsh. If you hear that Jesus is love, or that God is love, without hearing also about how our Lord suffered because of that love, get up. Leave. Find a church that preaches Christ crucified.
Before it’s too late.