“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” But we have earthquakes, fires, school shootings. Given the widespread paranoia of where the next disaster will strike—doesn’t sound like God loves the world. Maybe God has changed His mind. Perhaps He is ready to destroy us all.
Doubt enters in. Since many of our deeds are done in darkness, we certainly are aware of our weaknesses. Bad news makes the headlines. One country is ready to make war while we try to be the “Big Brother” because we have the bigger gun. Nobody wins. Meanwhile, we continue to be afraid of each other. Suspicion, envy, jealousy have served to drag us down. Folks described in the Bible were no different from us. Ever wonder why the writers of the Hebrew Scriptures didn’t take out all the parts that made them look bad? Why did they leave in the parts where they messed up? That’s really why the faith survived, because they were able to self-critique. Any institution that is not willing to be self-critical will not survive. The Israelites knew that they weren’t perfect. They realized that their life was about two steps forward and three steps backward. Over and over they doubted God’s love for them. 40 years in the wilderness gave them time to look at themselves. We hear of the regrets they expressed to Moses, “We should have stayed in Egypt. Why did you bring us out here to die? At least in Egypt we had enough to eat.” When people sinned and were being bitten by serpents in the desert, they were desperate. They blamed each other, they blamed Moses, they blamed God. We do the same. When bad things happen; we blame everyone but ourselves. We usually refuse to take responsibility for our actions. God did not abandon them. He told Moses to make a bronze serpent and stick it on a poll. The ones who looked at the serpent recovered.
Jesus compared Himself to the serpent on the poll since He knew that He would be lifted up on the cross. The cross, although a symbol of death, became for us a symbol of life. We know that Jesus is no longer dead but we still put the corpus—His body on the cross, which we call a crucifix—so that we may look upon it and live. We remember the great sacrifice that was made in order to set us free. “So that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” We look, we believe and we are healed.
If we are truly convinced that God loves us without conditions, then nothing should disturb our peace. We should be the happiest people on the planet. Joy needs to radiate from our person so that others can be contaminated. Even in the middle of the Lenten Season we recognize that we are an Easter people. Jesus did not condemn the world when He came the first time. He will not condemn the world in the future. Lots of rumors have been circulated about God’s wrath and we forget to spread the Good News that He came to save us. Why would God damn us all to hell? Why would God destroy the creation He made? None of us will pay what we owe. That’s the beauty of our Faith. However, we have to allow ourselves to be loved—not play hard to get with God. He’s always looking for us, especially when we are trouble. Fact is, like St. Paul says, “When we are at our worse, when we are at our lowest point—then God can be strong inside of us.” The way up is the way down. The way to be complete is when we learn to empty ourselves. Therefore, the cross must be lifted up. So that we will not forget. The temptation is to think ourselves self-sufficient.
We are nothing without the One who came to save us. All we have to do is to believe in the One who does not condemn—In the One who will hold us forever.