A few days ago I asked for readers to tell me what’s wrong with Christianity, from a perspective of those who don’t follow Christ. Based on the absence of any response, I’ve come to the conclusion that either I don’t have any readers who don’t follow Christ, or there’s nothing wrong with Christianity in the eyes of those who choose not to follow him (which leads me to believe that the problem contributing to the decline of the Christian faith in the US might lie, not with the belief system, but rather with those who profess the belief system–but that’s for another day). Since no one else seems to see anything “wrong” with Christianity, let me point out something absurd about Christianity, in honor of Easter.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Webster’s defines “absurdity” as either incongruous or meaningless; both of these definitions hold the idea that the absurd is irrational or does not align with human understanding.
Face it, it’s absurd to believe that
- God took the form of man,
- walked the earth (that he created),
- allowed the mankind (that he created) to arrest him, try him, impose the death penalty on him,
- and then, through a total violation of all human experience, the God-Man rose from the dead,
But in that absurdity the objective mind can find the very reason for the absurdity–by definition absurdity means it doesn’t make sense to the human mind. Many throughout history have made the mistake of assuming that something incongruous or nonsensical to the human mind is therefore not possible. To one of Copernicus’ contemporaries, the idea of a rocket was nonsensical, let alone a man walking on the moon. However, that absurdity did not mean it was impossible, just that it was beyond man’s comprehension.
The historical evidence for the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is strong; in fact, denial of the evidence in the face of that evidence is absurd–it defies human reason; unless that denial starts with a presupposed notion that because an event or concept does not align with the individual’s understanding it is therefore impossible. This rationalistic approach is the basis for most attempts to explain away the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection–“to believe that the Messiah (God’s appointed savior who was to restore the world to the way He intended) was crucified, then raised from the dead defies logic, reason, and all the knowledge and experience of mankind!” Apply that same logic to claim that the entire Apollo program was a hoax, and most everyone will agree you’re a kook.
Is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus absurd? Absolutely! It flies in the face of all human reason, precisely because it’s not of human reason!
- God created man, and out of love gave man the freedom to choose to love God, which by definition means he also gave man the freedom to choose not to love God. What rational man would do that???
- Man chose to love himself (ok, that certainly fits within our understanding)–he didn’t want to love God, he wanted to be God
- God loved anyway, and chose to restore man’s ability to exist in relationship with Him
- God didn’t force us to accept his Son and the restoration that He provided. He gives us the choice again.
YHWH, I honor you and surrender my life to you. No god created from human reasoning would subject himself to the humiliation of being made human; of suffering and resisting temptation, of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of his creation (corrupted). No king, let alone a mythological ruler, would look at humanity in all its selfish debasement, not in wrath, but in sacrificial love. No ruler would weep in anguish in the garden, knowing that those appointed to minister to him were coming instead to take him captive to impose the death penalty on him, in the most heinous form the corrupt mind of man could devise.
Yet you did. And even after you proved yourself to be God, raising Jesus to life on the third day, you did not destroy us nor imprison us. These would be the actions of a victorious king who had defeated his captors. Instead, you not only provided a means to set us free from the bondage of selfishness that we freely submitted to, you have given us a purpose and an authority in your Kingdom, once we step into the freedom you offer.
Continue to be merciful to me Lord, for the selfishness of my human nature is powerful, alluring, and in its familiarity, it’s even comforting, despite it’s toxicity. Only through the power of your Spirit could Jesus withstand the temptation, and only through that same Spirit that you freely give can I withstand.
I’m thankful, particularly today, that you are not limited by the bounds of human reasoning. Thank you for the absurdity of the Cross.