The Difficulty

"... the cry of the sceptic and the defeated is revealed in Jesus' own agony at Gethsemane and Golgotha. The choice to believe in the sovereignty of divine love, and to consent to the forgiveness of all, is much more hidden in the mystery of divine grace... The failure to recognize the difficulty of faith is, finally, a failure to comprehend the evil in the world with sufficient depth. The evil in the world, revealed on the cross, so hides God that only divine grace can reveal God and enable one to have faith and obey the call of forgiveness" (Harris Athanasiadis, George Grant and the Theology of the Cross, U of T Press, pp. 27f). So much for simplifying life and the faith! It's passages like this that slap me across my religious, pastoral face. As a pastor, there is so much temptation to succeed, get big, have influence, make a difference, be the best show in town. As a tonic to ward off these kinds of diseases, I absorb these kinds of readings. Prevention is the best cure! Jesus reminds me that all it takes is one grain of yeast to leaven the whole lump of dough. So often I have seen in other churches and pastors the common practice of mixing just enough of triumphalism and ambition, manipulation and coercion, rules and regulations, to make the thing work and succeed. And I've seen it in myself. Over and over again, even daily, I have to take up the cross and let the horrible instrument do its brutal work against my tendencies to do other than what the cross teaches: love and forgive. Help me keep it simple! Complicate and frustrate my agenda. Nail my busy hands and feet. Surround my proud and frivolous head with a crown of thorns. Back me up against the cross where YOUR greatest work is achieved.

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