Erik Strandness reflects on the radical commitment of a god who shares in our suffering
Christianity isn’t intellectual assent but rather relationship commitment. It isn’t a Jesus admiration society but a nuptial celebration. I think the solemnity of this decision is what gives seekers pause - counting the cost of what they will have to leave behind makes them weak in the knees.
Weighed down by the gravity of the decision, they fail to see that God already hit rock bottom for them. Pondering the demands of persevering through richer and poorer, sickness and health, they don’t realize that Jesus already suffered on their behalf. Despite their rejection, God continues to propose to them on bended knee.
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Jesus overlooks our past, present and future, and yet still offers us no greater love. He is laser focused even though we have a wandering eye. He suffers domestic abuse as we spit upon him, beat him, and ultimately crucify him, and yet, he forgives us with his last breath. No other God commits to us while we are still wafflers.
We tend to search for gods that are OK with an open marriage, gods who either look the other way or even encourage divine polyamory. The problem is that when finances fail, cancer afflicts a child, or we become redundant at work, these gods walk out on us. They not only vacate our spiritual houses but have the gall to leave a Dear John letter behind accusing us of not thinking enough positive thoughts, of being too attached to our loved ones, or accumulating too much karmic baggage. Sadly, when the going gets tough they leave town and become dead-beat gods whose support checks always bounce.
Maybe we need to consider committing to a God who makes himself most real when things aren’t going well. A God who shares in our sufferings and doesn’t explain them away. A God who goes all in when our chips are down. While it is important to count the cost of being a Christian, we need to remember that Jesus already payed the bill.
Jesus makes our commitment phobia look quite petty. He offers no greater love and yet we agonize over the social awkwardness we will face when we declare with our lips that “Jesus is Lord”. God is offering us a ring despite our chequered past; he already knows our limitations and yet wants to spend an eternity with us. What will we choose: a heavenly honeymoon with the lover of our souls or a one-night stand with a god who sneaks out in the morning because he or she doesn’t want to see our morning hair? We have been called to the altar. What will we say? “I do” or “I don’t”?
Erik Strandness is a physician and Christian apologist who has practiced neonatal medicine for more than 20 years.