In the midst of Holy Week, let me take a break form the series of blogs I’m writing celebrating God’s leading Jane and myself to Fort McMurray including a little bit of extra stuff happening with Briercrest College & Seminary. Being Holy Week and all, we certainly have something of far greater importance to celebrate!!
As I consider the history shattering events we are about the celebrate, the cross and resurrection of Jesus, there’s a phrase that I picked up from Australian Michael Frost that has been ringing loud for me, it’s the phrase “reprocessing anger into grace.” Frost in his book “The Road to Missional,” uses this phrase to describe the costly death of Jesus on the cross. God the Father is reprocessing his anger into grace. God takes on the punishment himself, atoning for the anger and hurt we caused Him by our wrong doing.
Consider the response of Jesus as he endured the excruciating pain of the cross, “Father forgive them for the do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV) What an incredible and counter cultural demonstration of love. On the cross God demonstrates his commitment to restore relationship with the very people who had rejected his love and care. Though the cross, God makes it possible for all of us to embrace and experience a restored relationship with our Creator.
Peace with God, relationship restored, all leading to a quality and depth of life that can be experienced no other way now, that goes on for eternity.
But it doesn’t stop there. As Frost aptly points out, not only does the cross create the means by which we with our broken relationships with God can find restoration that brings us peace with God, it reveals the framework for Christian mission. We Christ followers likewise must reprocess our anger into grace. We must reprocess our hurt and our disappointments with one-another and the world into grace. We of all people must radically demonstrate this vision of Jesus, that is of a kingdom of restored relationships, of grace, of peace.
How did Jesus teach us to pray? “Our Father … forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?” This comes in the midst of praying to see God’s “kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” We are to demonstrate that kingdom by processing our anger and hurt into grace, just as the Father has for us.
Yet this commitment to demonstrate God’s kingdom by being a people who reprocess our anger and hurt into grace is not always how those outside of the church view us. The average Canadian sees Jesus in this way but not his followers. We have a bit of a reputation for being a people who easily hurt and get angry with one another, causing people to shy away from our communities. Further we are often known as a people who are marked by anger at those outside of our church communities who do not share our viewpoints. It’s one of the key issues why so many Canadians appear to like Jesus but not the church.
I for one want to renew my commitment to reprocess any anger and hurt I have into grace and attempt to be a demonstration of the kingdom reign of our God at work in my life. I pray that God will use me to be an instrument that brings a foretaste of the world to come. May I truly be a conduit of his peace and grace to the people he graciously brings into my life, both within and beyond my faith community.
And I pray for all of us that individually and the church communities we’re a part of would increasingly demonstrate the love, grace and peace that Christ feely gives us, to the world he’s sending us into. With resurrection power, may we love even as Jesus loved us through the cross. Happy Easter.