This week I have heard more than a few people asking what is Good about good Friday.
Some may interpret that it must mean that God is good, so it’s a good Friday. But to most people, God is not good. Looking at the suffering in the world or in their own lives, it’s hard to believe God could be good at all.
I totally understand that.
Every day I experience peace with God, but there was a time where I was not. After I ended up in a wheelchair, and my situation grew worse rather than better, and was persisting year after year instead of day after day, I really had something to be at war with God about. I was angry that such a horrible, excruciatingly painful condition was not going away, despite prayer and all that. I still believed in God but I was very frustrated. So I can understand others when they wonder how could God be good when they’ve suffered through so much, lost people they loved, had people they trusted hurt and betray them or even abuse them. It seems like God is not on our side, if He exists, he’s a monster, indifferent, unloving or unable to help.
The other resistance is religion. “religion” being man’s systems to reach perfection, God, salvation (from whatever), self actualization, peace etc. simply doesn’t work. Rules and regulations can never reform us, and we think that God wants us to adhere to these rules and regulations in order to be accepted. We know we can’t do those things, we know we don’t even desire to do what religious rules tell us we should, and we are powerless to control ourselves. And we should know that many religious rules and practices never came from God in the first place.
Ignoring religion, I want to focus on reality. I was fighting against God in many ways before I even got hurt and ended up in a wheelchair. I didn’t want God telling me how to run my life, thank you very much. I wanted to be my own god, and I lived that way too. I believed what the Bible said, and still concluded “that’s not for me, thanks.” I was an enemy of God, even while believing in His existence. One day, I realized I was the enemy, not the other way around.
And soon after, I laid down my guns and decided I did want to stop fighting God, I wanted peace with Him, even though that meant turning from some things in my life, I saw that peaceful reconciliation as more valuable. Christ’s death made that possible. Why?
“For when we were still without strength, Christ died for us rebels. For hardly for a righteous man would someone lay down his life, and perhaps for a good man someone might dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more now being reconciled we shall be saved by His Life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans 5:6-11
The first question one might ask is “why is there evil in the first place, if God is good.” My answer to this is that He is good, but because we are rebels we live in the consequence of loving the things that are evil and we also suffer because of others’ love for evil (abuse, war etc). The Bible explains that the world was created “very good” but sin entered the world through Adam’s rebellion against God. Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered in the world, and death through sin, death spread to all men.” There was no restoration to the ideal state of humanity because it was irreparably broken. But rather than curse mankind forever, even before Adam, God knew what would happen and already had a plan to reconcile fallen man to Himself.
The next question might be why would God choose a brutal crucifixion as the only way to make this reconciliation possible? To me, it shows that sin is serious, and the consequences of it are horrendous. Sin hurts God in an amazing way. He hates it, but loves us. Ever heard a parent say “I’d rather die than see my child suffer?” If humans can say that, how much more the heart of God who designed us and breathed life into us. He loves us so much that He’d rather die a humiliating death in our place to show us He is good, despite the evil that has entered the world and perpetuates (even gets worse and worse) because WE are rebels.
If we want to be reconciled to God, we can – but not by a set of religious rules, practices, memberships, self-denial, self improvement or anything else. We can relate to God not through fear and rule-keeping, but by grace and forgiveness that is marked by the peace of God. The Bible describes it as a “peace that surpasses understanding” and I honestly live with that peace every moment of the day. Even when I still can’t walk and life seems to crumble all around me. I have a peace that I did not have when I was God’s enemy. I have seen both sides, so I know what I’m talking about, and I have only seen the same peace described by others who have also received God’s gift of reconciliation through the belief in Christ’s death in exchange for our life and who walk in that freedom.
If it was only my own experience, I could write it off as weirdness, but honestly there is this indescribable life shared by those who walk at peace with God. That is why we share our faith and message of hope and life. It’s not to make ourselves feel better or to win more players for our team. It’s because we love Christ and because Christ loves others we also put our own necks on the line, risking looking stupid or like religious nuts for the greater glory that someone else might find the freedom from the bondage of sin, forgiveness, and eternal life that we have so fortunately found.