Friday 3 April 2015

Who’s to Blame?

I contributed this week’s ‘Connecting with Culture’, a weekly email service provided by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. It was written before David Cameron’s Easter message to Christians via Premier Christianity on Wednesday, which I would have liked to address, though I think the below – with its emphasis on the cross – does so anyway.

‘Blame is just a lazy person’s way of making sense of chaos.’ So says Janet Drummond, the matriarch of Douglas Coupland’s novel, All Families are Psychotic. ‘It’s nobody’s fault. It’s chaos. Just chaos. Random numbers popping up in a cosmic Lotto draw.’

And yet, issues of blame – and requisite justice – will not go away. In spite of more than a million people signing a petition calling for his return, Jeremy Clarkson’s BBC contract will not be renewed following his ‘physical and verbal attack’ on a Top Gear producer. Lufthansa has confirmed that insurers have set aside $300m to cover claims following allegations that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed their Germanwings plane en route from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. Italy’s highest court has acquitted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of Meredith Kercher in 2007, leaving the exact circumstances of her death an ongoing mystery. The celebrations surrounding Richard III’s burial at Leicester Cathedral prompted a backlash of accusations that a detestable tyrant was being treated like a saint.

On the face of it, the need to have someone to blame and for a sense of justice to be carried out assumes some kind of moral fabric to the universe. While such a stance has been argued from secular viewpoints, it makes complete sense from a Christian perspective. We fail and fall, actions have consequences, justice is necessary.

But Christians also hold that the ultimate predicament of human beings – rebellion against God and the judgment it deserves – is dealt with uniquely at the cross of Christ. Here is the place where justice is served and love is demonstrated in the same act, in the death of the one who took on himself that for which we would rightly be held accountable.

The work of the cross is applied personally, though not privately, for it is the place where the wisdom and power of God are demonstrated to the world. Jesus’ death is God’s chosen means of restoring ‘all things’, liberating men and women – and creation itself – from sin and bondage, with the guarantee that one day evil will be removed completely.

Meanwhile, that hope sustains our discipleship and mission as we seek to make sense of the cross and be shaped by it, knowing that we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us.

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