Easter season continues until Pentecost, so I look again at the Easter message—Jesus died for our sins. It has always troubled me when preachers say Jesus died for MY sins—indicating a personal thing. Beyond personal sin, there is societal sin—a far greater offense! Our world is a singular unit in the vast Universe. We are one interdependent/interacting world. We’ve not acknowledged that, we’ve not learned to love as God loves, we’ve held self-interest above universal concerns so our world is in crisis: Climate Change breeds weather disasters, our institutions are failing and in disarray, angry rebellion and wars are widespread, refugees flood neighboring nation’s exhausting their ability to give aid . . . because we haven’t learned to love.
With his Passion, Jesus lived evil’s consequences. Jesus did more than just free us from our personal sins—God could have done that with a wave of his hand—but not without canceling free will. That freedom has given us the right to shape our world by our collective choices. In Deuteronomy God’s edict to mankind is: “I lay before you life and death, choose life.” That points to freedom that carries the burden of responsibility. When we maim and steal, maliciously exploit, abuse our neighbor and ignore their needs we are choosing to sin. Individually it is personal sin, but when adopted by a culture it is destructive to Humanity. God, in the human form of Jesus elected to live out sin’s long-range effects . . . he endured the harshest, cruelest, most malhuman acts of which man is capable—unfettered venomous hatred and complete utter destruction—that is sin’s consequences.
Jesus lived it out for our understanding. He endured it and his body was destroyed, but his spirit rose. Only love is strong enough to conquer evil—hatred and wars are its fuel. The Passion addressed our human need to see proof of the effect of not learning to love. God loves us that much; to become the material evidence of sin’s overwhelming destructive power.
In this 21st Century humanity cannot continue to be a world of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Thousands of years have been spent exploring, discovering, developing and connecting the ‘parts’ of this one world, and, if we but look, we can’t help but see we are One interacting, interconnected single unit in a vast Universe—we survive or perish together. Jesus’ entire earthly message was ‘love one another as I have loved you’.
The Passion was God’s pure love showing us the outcome of the path we are walking—until we learn to love. He died willingly to bring the message: God loves us this much! Because Jesus rose from death, we esteem him, praise and honor him—for our theology tells us that doing so is a guarantee of our personal salvation . . . but do we understand the message? It’s more than Jesus saves each of us; the call is salvation for all of us. God awaits humanity together, to choose for life. We are called to return God’s love by learning how to love as God loves.