“To be mature is to be basic. CHRIST! No more, no less.”
-Colossians 1:29, The Message
I came across this simple line in my Bible the other day, and these dozen words knocked me off my feet.
And it reminded me that everything else pales in comparison to the elemental, yet monumental, message of the cross…
The message of the cross – so simple, so pivotal.
Before the cross, Christ is a prophet. Enlightened, radical, forward-thinking, excessive, ground-breaking.
On the cross, Christ is suffering, He is stubborn, He is adamant, He is shamed.
After the cross, Christ is essential.
I have had many, many conversations with an unbeliever, someone who challenges me constantly to think analytically, to try and explain my faith, to marry intellect and the impossibilities of the existence of such a God. Not just a God, but a personal God, a just and perfect God, a jealous and lovestruck and intensely interested God. And we have gone round after round, day after day, these conversations and questions, backed by scientific findings, countered with Biblical teachings, back and forth, and I realize that, for the most part, these conversations, for me anyway, are hardly fruitful.
Throughout these conversations, and in my own personal search for feasible answers to the questions that we, man – in all our glorious curiosity – ask, and the myriad of “facts” that are proven one day, disproved the next, I fail to realize what the apostle Paul intimately and inherently knew.
CHRIST. No more, no less.
CHRIST holds it all together.
Without CHRIST, God is still on one side of the chasm, separated, desperately bound by His very nature. And we stand isolated on the other, floundering, tempted, distracted, missing something our very core recognizes but cannot name.
Despite our basic human nature to be all things egotistical, the whole story revolves around CHRIST, what God accomplished through Christ, what God needed even more than He needed His own flawless Son. Redemption. Fellowship. Relationship. Reconciliation.
Everything else is secondary.
We fail – I fail – to recognize, daily and reverently, the purpose, the power of what Christ did that day in Calvary. During His brief life, He taught feverishly, He healed constantly, He loved fully. But His death…without His death, without His resurrection, without His descent into darkness, without His own separation from God, the Holiest of Holies, we would be left with nothing. Jesus would have been nothing more than powerful, influential figure in our history books, no more significant than the others, purely man.
But He died.
And He rose!
He swallowed that punishment, the mandatory separation from God, the sentence of being fully cast away, wholly removed from every echo of good. He went there, willingly, painfully, to that place of loss, of despair, of darkness without any hope of seeing the light…a place of anguish, a place you and I are destined for, had He not gone before us, had He not brought His light into that place, banishing the darkness forever for those who simply believe.
Simple. Pivotal. Essential.