1 Corinthians 1:20, 23-25, 30 God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish … So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength … For our benefit God made Christ Jesus to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.
I had read it before, for another Zoom discussion on racial reconciliation. But when my small group decided to read and discuss Jemar Tisby’s The Color of Compromise and I read it again in the context of Lent, Jemar’s comments at the end of chapter six on the cross as the lynching tree, I felt punched in the gut. Jemar’s point is that lynching could not have continued had the white church not kept silent. I feel like Nehemiah, crying out to the Lord on behalf of his people and their sins. Thousands of people cruelly tortured for the slightest of offenses, real or imagined, their ravaged bodies hung on trees for anyone to gawk at. And the Lord’s people either participating, viewing the lynching like a spectator sport (think of the ancient Roman’s and the Coliseum), or simply doing—nothing. Oh God. Have mercy on us, your people. Sinners.
I am overwhelmed by the wisdom of the cross. I’ve often thought about it in relation to survivors of sexual abuse, for Jesus too was stripped, mocked, violated, shamed. By choice. Out of love. For us. He knows.*
He knows, too, the horror of lynching. He was lynched by an irrational, prejudiced crowd led by people wanting desperately to preserve their power. Tortured. Ravaged. Stripped. Shamed. And hung on a tree.
The wisdom of God is humility. Sacrifice. Powerlessness.
The enemy thought he had won. BUT . . . !
Understanding more about the cross makes Jesus’ resurrection even more precious. As I seek with Gerard Manley Hopkins (thank you, Elaine!) to “let him Easter” in me, “be the Dayspring to my dimness,” I don’t want to be silent about the enemy’s assaults in my own generation. Even while longing for the day when there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain, the day when every tear will be wiped from our eyes, I want to use my voice to say “No!” to injustice. And to say “Yes!” to the healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation the cross makes possible.
*Diane Langberg writes eloquently about the meaning of the cross in Suffering and the Heart of God and other books and articles. The work of Be the Bridge is based on the cross. Check it out. The “colors of compromise” in Tisby’s vision are green for greed, red for blood shed in every kind of suffering, and white for complicity. Read his book. It will change you. It will Easter you.