There is a 21-year old in Norway who claims that she is a cat, and that a genetic defect has caused her to be born into a human body. She claims to have superior hearing and sight, especially in the dark, and she likes to sleep on window ledges.
Today’s society is so anxious about individual rights that it is almost impossible to challenge how somebody else wishes to define themselves. Take the label ‘Christian’ for example. Can you imagine a conversation in which somebody says to you, ‘I’m glad you’re a Christian, because I’m one too;’ and you reply: ‘No, you’re not!’?
Well, I hope we wouldn’t be as blunt or rude as that in a real conversation. Nonetheless it is fair to expect some evidence to support somebody’s claim to be a Christian.
But that does not mean all real Christians will seem pure and holy and good all the time. We are sinners too! We get many things wrong, hurt each other, and disregard God in all kinds of ways. But a real Christian recognizes that they are doing so, wishes it were not so, and tries to put away their disobedience and submit more fully to the Lordship of Jesus. That is the meaning of repentance; it is turning away from wrong. You cannot claim to be a Christian if you are determined to carry on doing what Jesus and his apostles say is wrong.
So a real Christian does not try to shrug off their sin or justify it. They do not try to claim that what the Bible calls sin is no longer sin today. A real Christian recognizes God’s absolute claim on their lives, and recognizes how far short they constantly fall of his standards, and is always saying sorry and making a new commitment to live rightly with the help of God’s Spirit.
This is how Christianity makes sense of Good Friday. At the cross, Jesus did not redefine sin so that it no longer matters. He did not alter God’s attitude to sin as something worthy of death and judgement. He did not make sin something we can now commit without worrying about it. The cross is too big, too significant, too momentous and weighty an event for its message to be: ‘Come to God and live as you like’.
The message of the cross is this: Your sin matters this much to God, that he should come in the person of Jesus and die to save you from it. Accept this salvation that comes through the blood of Jesus, and turn away from all your sin, because your loving Saviour is also your holy Lord. What a gospel!
May I wish all readers a very happy and holy Easter time.