Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why Did Christ Have to Die?

Yesterday I saw Apocalypto. The violence was unpleasant, but the total impact of the film was worthwhile. The one scene that set me thinking without warning was the most detailed and graphic depiction of human sacrifice I've ever seen on film or ever want to see again.

The shocking thing was that I thought of what made humans feel they had to appease their gods so much that a periodic supply of sacrificial victims was necessary. Human life is always precious. Those sacrificed were captured members of other tribes also trying to survive in the Mayan forests.

There was prayer throughout by the different tribes and the protagonists for their particular god or gods to protect them from the terrors and tragedies of their fight or die existence. One was made to feel that at least those not doing the sacrifice were more noble people. It was not clear that the sacrificial tribe had also a penchant for human sacrifice.

The thing that shocked me was that I briefly remembered the article I've linked at the top. (Please click on the title of this post if you wish to read that article.) A vague memory of a sentence the author made in that Adventist Today article about how Christ's sacrifice wasn't needed to appease God. Traditional Adventists or Christians say that it was the violation of the Law that had to be resolved. Of course, it bothers me at times that the Law is not a separate entity from God Himself. I say that with all respect.

I wish to continue to believe in God, so I dealt with these perplexing and unpleasant thoughts by deciding that since God sacrificed Himself He was appeasing his own need for wholeness as regards His own demands regarding his moral Law. He paid the ultimate sacrifice in that He sacrificed Himself. No one can pay a greater price.

The reason that I found all this unsettling, and I have to study, ponder and pray about this more is the following. Why is there so much blood and victims and sacrifice in the Old Testament and in God the Son's sacrifice? Why so much suffering? Why this obsession in ancient cultures as well in the Judaeo-Christian culture with blood, and victims and sacrifice and pain and loss of life? What is it about ancient man and man's perception of what the word of God says about sacrifice to appease gods or God Himself? I'm missing my own point here a bit. It eludes me because it is so uncomfortable and mysterious.

Why does anyone, ancient mankind (humankind) or God, Himself, have to sacrifice others or Himself in order to have peace? Don't get me wrong. We serve a wonderful God, but again, what is all this perplexing obsession and need for blood and more blood. I speak of more blood, or the ultimate blood loss of the Son of God, God Himself really, as the “more blood."

It almost sounds slightly unsophisticated or unnecessary, this obsession or this great need for blood or sacrifice of life. But who am I, a mere mortal and an imperfect one, at that, to disapprove of the "without blood there is no appeasement." The good thing is that we are not required to sacrifice our own children or our own selves to have peace with God.

Why oh why, Lord God, did you have to suffer so much? Couldn't you have shown us you loved us in a different way? I'm mortified that you had to suffer so much for us, and for me.

As I am wont to say often, I'm missing something here. I don't have all the pieces of the puzzle. There had to have been other solutions, other ways of saving man and womankind. But, whatever the reason that our God felt it absolutely necessary to sacrifice Himself that we might live at peace with Him, I am grateful. I hope to understand and love this God who suffered so much and who continues to suffer with us.

Does anyone out there have a solution to this unease I felt while watching so much human sacrifice and why God Himself had to sacrifice Himself, as well, for us? Yes, I know what the Bible says, but why does it say it? Why does it say it so often and so obessessivley. There has to be more to humanity's story than blood shedding and/or blood shedding or sacrifice as a means to resolution of past wrongs or of Original Sin. What am I missing here?

No comments: