Good Friday Thoughts

Good Friday is a day of extreme contrast. Horrible cruelty was carried out against an innocent man. He was betrayed, beaten, belittled, and finally executed in a dehumanizing, cruel and painful, and humiliating way. Yet we Christians call it “Good.” It’s not good because of the actions done by humanity against Jesus. It is “Good” because of what Jesus accomplished that day – completely succumbing to it all, and yet…death did not get the final say.

I find myself drawn to Good Friday this year in a different way than prior years. In many ways I am struggling. I’m struggling with humanity and how absolutely cruel humanity can be. I am struggling with what seems like our bull headed insistence to do the absolute opposite of everything that Jesus called on his followers to do. Do we do this out of spite, arrogance, what? Do we do this to send a message to Jesus that he doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about? Are we really just a bunch of toddlers throwing a fit on the floor of the market demanding we get our way?

I struggle with humanity’s proclivity towards authoritarianism. Do we think that we’ll somehow be exempt from the cruelty and destruction that comes with all authoritarian systems? In what universe does any of this make any sense at all?

I struggle with humanity’s path of environmental destruction that seems to be bound to our endless capacity for toxic individualism. Do we really, honestly, believe that we are so separate from everything and everyone else that we can act and do whatever we want without any consequence? What kool-aid are we drinking?

I struggle with humanity’s addiction to power and control. For what purpose do we so desire power and control? Certainly not to better life on this planet. No, often those that seek power and control are most interested in making their own lives better at the expense of everyone else. And those that have this addiction are usually the ones whose lives are most chaotic and disordered.

I struggle with humanity’s use of God for own purposes. We use God over and over again to implement our own will. It is the height of arrogance and idolatry. And we don’t even feel a twinge of regret or seem to have a clue we are doing it because it has become second nature to us.

I struggle with humanity’s excessive need to separate people and devalue anyone who is different from ourselves. This isn’t just individual choices. No, we are all stuck in systems that go far beyond us and force us to participate in the injustice against our wills. Racism, misogyny, anti-LGBTQ+, nationalism, poverty, war, greed, consumerism, and more.

I struggle with so much that seems to fit so well with Good Friday. The powers and principalities came down on Jesus, inflicted cruelty, dehumanized, forced, and killed Jesus. And yet…

Death did not get the final say.

All of these struggles I listed, and all the struggles you face, are forms of death. They intend to kill – to kill our will to live a different and better way without them. To kill our hopes for a better world. To kill our empathy and selflessness. To kill our faith.

We can’t face these things on our own. We will succumb to them if we try. We will burn out. We will crumble. We will fail miserably and death will impose cruelty for even trying to stand in its way.

But we are not alone. Not even close. No matter how hopeless it seems, no matter how it might look like the whole world has been sucked into cruelty as a way to be, no matter how the world wants to shout at us and tell us that we are alone – no matter all that and more, we are not alone. We have never been alone. Death and cruelty and dehumanization and all of it are not the norm. They are not way God intends for the world to be. They are not on the winning side of history. They are not of God. They are not life giving. They will never fulfill their promise of improving the life of those who practice them. They will lie. They will cheat. They will manipulate. They will be devoid of humanity. And they will fall. They always do. It’s just a matter of time. They fall under their own weight.

It is Good Friday. And it is good because what dies is cruelty, hatred, fear, and death. Our hope is not in any of those things. It is in God and God’s way. The way of Shalom. The way of the image of God. The way of the unfolding kingdom of God.

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