Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I was at a coffee house the other night when the Holy Spirit fell in a special way. I normally enjoy His presence when I play but this was a community presence. No one was carrying on a conversation or on their cell phone. Everyone was caught up in worship. It started with two musicians playing some random notes and evolved into a musical worship service the point of which was that once you knew Jesus there was no mistaking LOVE.
I have often been surprised by my fellow Quaker's disdain for the concept of the Atonement. Many times I have heard Quakers and non-Christians say that God wouldn't send His son to die on a cross. When I read the bible the Atonement seems like a natural concept and I have asked God to show me why there is this problem with it among so many.
Arising from my participation the other night at the coffee house worship, I see that for many the problem is their perception of what Calvary was about. It's not that Jesus' death on the cross didn't atone for our sins, which I believe that it did; and it's not that Jesus' death didn't restore our relationship with the Father which I believe that it did; but it's about understanding what Love is and how inadequate and feeble our attempts to love really are. It's not the Love of the Father that is displayed on Calvary. It's the Love of Jesus that is displayed on Calvary.
In the 11th chapter of the book of Judges there is a story of Jephthah a son of Gilead who was asked to lead the Isrealites against their enemy. In doing so Jephtah made a foolish vow to the Lord that he would sacrifice the first thing to greet him when he returned home if God gave him victory over his foe. Well of course when he returned home his daughter was the first one to greet him and eventually she was sacrificed. This is not a story of how a man kept his vow. It's a story of a daughter's love for her father. I don't think anyone can believe keeping this vow was the right thing to do. Jesus tells us not to make such vows (Matthew 5:33-37). The daughter loved life but loved her father more. When we think of the Father God sacrificing the Son God we look at what we consider the Father's hard heartedness. What we don't consider is that the Father and the Son are one (John 17:11). God was saying "these wretches are selfish and will never be loving" and at the same time God was saying "but I am loving and must do something to show them how to love". An experience not necessarily foreign to those of us with children.
We use the concept of the trinity to explain something we don't understand but it's just a concept. The fact is God didn't have someone else die to show us what love is. He himself died to show us what love is supposed to be. He took on a human body to do so but nevertheless it was God on that tree.
For about 15 minutes and then maybe as much as an hour thereafter on a Friday nite in a small room 10 to 15 people just kept singing a simple refrain: There's no mistaking love! Over and over and over. Because once you have experienced Jesus. Once he has spoken to your condition. There is no mistaking Love.