“I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross… In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world.
But each time after a while I have to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness.
That is the God for me! He laid aside His immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in light of His.”
—John Stott, The Cross of Christ
It is interesting to read of Pastor Stott’s turning toward the image of the crucified Christ, away from the smiling but detached Buddha. As I did not grow up with images of the crucified Christ, I find it very difficult to see paintings, statues, or watch movies depicting the Crucifixion. I want to turn away in discomfort at the agony portrayed. It is too overwhelming to behold.
But I must turn back and face Him. I cannot look away in horror.
He is not detached. He is completely and unutterably attached to me–by His grace–by His will–by His giving of Himself–indeed by the nails themselves. That is my God hanging there.