Christ’s Sacrifice

29 Jul

Earlier in the week I promised to put down some thoughts concerning Christianity for a blogger by the name of Crystal.  Here it goes.

The question was, how does one experience God, or rather search for God.  My answer:  I experience God through the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.  Allow me to explain.

The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is the definitive moment in man’s history when God, through the person of Christ, poured out the Holy Spirit on man.  Prior to this event men usually lived in a state of constant supplication to a God that demanded to be pleased.  Such supplication usually took the form of the sacrifice of a human or animal.  We felt guilty, at least collectively, and demanded purification.

We men need these sacrifices made on our behalf.  We feel the need to be purified of past failures and the feeling of a new beginning.  Always, at the back of this, was the image of an angry god that the people must appease and ultimately please, through their actions and when those weren’t enough, through sacrifice.  (Modernity is freed from this cycle and abusive relationship because its cultural roots were nourished and informed by the Christian faith.  We can renounce this faith and walk on our own amidst the graveyard of gods long dead.  I would wager, that before long we would see old powers taking new forms and barbarism returning because men, in the name of civilization, cast off the root of civilization.)

Christ’s sacrifice freed us from this cycle and defined for men their true relation to the deity.  We were finally, and irrevocably, freed from living our lives in order to please the deity.  “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God is pleased with us; it was we, all along, who weren’t pleased with our existence.  We hated misfortune and yearned for ease and thus felt it to be the wrath of God when bad things stormed the gates of our lives.  When struck with famine, we sacrificed.  When burdened with financial woes, we sacrificed.  When living in a state of foolishness, we sacrificed.  But the final sacrifice has been made; our misfortunes are our own.   With the death of Christ we were released of a burden, that is, we no longer need feel irrational guilt. “My burdens are light.”

Yet we have also taken on a new burden, that of our own existence.  God has given this burden to those who believe the gift of the spirit, or modern men who walk beneath it’s protective social norms.  The true Christian, like the Atheist, understands that his actions have consequences and it is not God that punishes him for sin but sin itself that punishes him.  Atheists, I think some at least, grasp this.  Christians diverge from this agreement because we have received the spirit, and are brought into the providence of God.  Having received salvation we also become instruments in the salvation of others.  (Salvation applies both to our political associations and that salvation hoped for after death.  Not being a theologian, I’m more interested in the political salvation of men, of which the OT clearly testifies that God is a God both of the political and the eternal.  Also, one should understand politics as the relation between men, the study of communities.)

God no longer irrationally punishes us for apparently harmless acts that he deems unfitting.  We are punished reasonably and only for actions that deserve punishment.  God has made what is and what is punishes actions that stray.  One may protest and say that any punishment from God is irrational, that he isn’t real or doesn’t concern himself with men.  What then?  Does nature not punish?  They have simply traded one rock for another to crash senselessly against.  Believer or not, existence does not change for you and its laws are irrevocable.

I experience God in facing this reality and laboring to conform to those laws of existence and I believe, through my faith in Christ, that the Holy Spirit steels my resolve and puts me to the labors necessary to flourish.  Have you ever read Tolstoy?  I assent to him in this: I often can only discern the work of providence after many years have come between the present me and the past me.  Looking back I can observe dispassionately why I acted or decided as I did.  It is only at such a distance that one can see with his reason.  In the present I can only experience the Holy Spirit as a vague will beside my own.  When one looks into himself he always finds an other, what most would call a conscience.  In the present this other presses itself on my will, sometimes urging it forward and sometimes restraining.

There are actions that help one to draw closer to God and increase the role of providence in one’s life.  Reading, conversation, prayer and singing hymns are the actions I find most effectual.  Each of these three acts work on my disposition in such a way I find life full.  And that’s what life is, utterly dense and very demanding.  So full that it horrifies people.  Yet, through those activities I encounter the Holy Spirit and am made capable.  Even more than capable, I enjoy the labor.  “We are more than conquerors.”

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3 Responses to “Christ’s Sacrifice”

  1. CrystalSpins July 29, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

    I found it just fine…

    I also appreciate you sharing. I must say, as a former protestant pastor this is all quite familiar to me — although I have not read Tolstoy.

    Perhaps the most intriguing part of your post was this: (Salvation applies both to our political associations and that salvation hoped for after death. Not being a theologian, I’m more interested in the political salvation of men, of which the OT clearly testifies that God is a God both of the political and the eternal. Also, one should understand politics as the relation between men, the study of communities.)

    I’m interested in your political ideals. What type of practical, political application of Christian ideals offer salvation in your opinion?

  2. Cole July 29, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    Oh Crystal, I knew that you would obviously find it alright. I posted that misplaced comment because I figured people would want to follow along!

    • CrystalSpins July 29, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

      Of course people will want to follow along! This is stimulating stuff!

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