Friday, March 21, 2008

God is Dead

Every Good Friday we are reminded of the humanity of Jesus. Look at how human Jesus was as he prayed, Not my will, but thine--again when he declared, "My God, My God, Why...." There is perhaps no more of a human moment than when he utters, "I thirst." And yet it seems odd to me that we can separate the humanity of Christ from the divinity; as if in Jesus' most human moments he ceased to be God. It seems to me that the humanity and divinity are so interwoven, that even in the most human moments Jesus is God and vice-versa.

On this Good Friday night, I am reminded again, that in so much as Jesus is God, God is dead..

Earlier this week, a boy at a local middle school committed suicide. Parents and youth at my church are trying to make sense of such a tragedy. Another pastor and I had an opportunity to talk with our confirmation class--some of whom were very closely affected by the death. At one point the other pastor asked a rhetorical question of the group. "Knowing what you now know, imagine that you had an opportunity to talk with the boy. What would you have said to him?"

As I have thought about that question myself this week, I am pondering what it means that God has died for us.

A number of people have expressed disbelief that the life of a seventh grader could be so bad to warrant suicide. I am troubled by this reasoning on two levels. On the one hand it seems dismissive of the things that stress teenagers--as if those stresses are somehow less real because they affect young people. On the other hand, it seems to assume that it is unreasonable that a 7th grader would commit suicide and assumes that if he were much older, suicide seems a more appropriate consideration.

Another comment I have often heard is, "There is nothing so terrible that could possibly make suicide your best option." This is undoubtedly true, and a good bit of simple advice to young people. But obviously anyone who has committed suicide thought that they had only one option--and not having stood in their shoes, I wouldn't want to deny their feelings especially since it is impossible to hear them out at this point.

So what would I say?

Lets assume for just a minute that it really is that bad. Maybe the depths of despair can become so great that death is the only thing deep enough to match the pain. In fact, I find it likely that such despair exists for many of us. The good news is that the death has been died for us. God is dead. God has died. And God has invited us to cast our cares, our deepest hurts, our embarrassments on Christ--who has already died that we don't have to.

Maybe those who are contemplating suicide really are in need of death--not the kind of death that you inflict on yourself. Rather, maybe there is a need to die to that which has caused the kind of anxiety that has led the suicidal person to believe death is the only possibility.

We are invited to participate in God's death so there is no need to take our own lives. Rather we can give our lives over to the one who has died; the one who can transform death into everlasting life; the one who takes our anxiety and despair and gives us freedom and hope.

1 comment:

stephanie garcia said...

I would be happy to get a book to you. They should be printed within the next couple of weeks. You can contact me at with the subject Adoption Poetry and I will let you know as soon as they are available. Thank you so much!