April 03, 2013

"That Should Have Been Me."

I've been hearing a theme in Christian'ese lately that has been around my whole life (and longer), but I never really paid attention to it till lately.

I hear the phrase, "It should have been me up there" refering to Jesus on the Cross.  I hear it in the songs of my favorite Christian singers, I have heard speakers/teachers say it, and I am pretty sure I have read it before too.  And I wonder if we are selling short the witness of the Gospel with that statement.

Here's my thought:  Jesus died as the perfect sacrifice on the Cross after enduring an excruciating torture.  He did that for us - to save us.  But that isn't what he saved us from.  Jesus didn't save us from a horendous tortuous death on a cross, He saved us from Hell.  Hell was our promised judgement.  I in no way mean to be irreverant, but compared to Hell, the cross seems like an easy out for us to consider as our deserved fate.

I wonder if others (non-Christians) who observe what we do, and listen critically to what we say think about that.  I wonder if the brevity of what we have been delivered from is lost on them because of a subtle poetic license we take with such a statement.  Being on the Cross wouldn't have been any place for me in the metanarrative scheme of my desperate situation.  The Cross was for earthly Criminals.  For Jesus to be there is an unspeakable atrocity allowed by an unimaginably Holy God for the sake of a  redemptive sacrifice.  If I had been on that cross, no matter what my legal situation, I would not have been a universal cosmic sacrifice restoring the availability of peace between all of broken humanity and God, let alone my own peace with God.  I would have simply died a terrible death.  That may or may not already be my fate, and to the unbelieving mind, that may not be that big a deal.

Secondly, I wonder if the Brevity of what Christ did for us is lost on them because of the connotation.
I think we may need to be careful equating God's perfect sacrifice with my deserved consequence of Hell.  The comparison is not that Jesus suffered what I could have/should have suffered apart from His salvation; The comparison is that He accomplished what I could not accomplish by living absolutely perfect and was then able to be the acceptable sacrifice.  With that in mind, there is absolutely no way I can point to the Cross and say, "That should have been me."  I believe it is an important distinction to make for those who care to hear it.

With you for His glory,