Psalm/Epistle: Nail Us to Your Cross

by bobbyrayhurd

Dear Friends,

“Forgive them, Father. They don’t know what they’re doing.” These words play over and over in my head whenever I think about the bloody roots of Christian faith. What’s more, I’m also reminded of the references in Scripture that speak of G-d’s people being reflections of G-d in this oppressive, dogmatic, graceless, violent world.

How often in Christian history have we crucified, executed, put to death, and declared war with the confidence that what we are doing is justified before the Lord? That what we were doing was righteous before the Savior we confess? Who are we worshiping whenever we’ve acted this way? Is it America? the Constitution? Is it ourselves? Is it humanity? Is it technology? Is it money? Is it our ability to have power? Is it pop culture? Is it our morality? Is it the political party we belong to? Is it the conquering of others in the name of our own self-righteous good?

Whomever and whatever we worship, Christ’s question is clear to us:

What images of what’s Ultimate are we reflecting when we live this way?

This is a deeply spiritual dilemma. I say, in these instances, people worship the gods of emptiness; gods who do not exist and that leave you broken and in denial.

The cross shows us that retribution is not the same as justification before the LORD. Retribution is not the salvation of Jesus Christ. For the death of Jesus was most certainly retribution— a man that the religious elite and moral order of Rome put to death as a transgressor– a rival to the salvation of human accomplishments. What the cross shows us is the futility of the cumulative accomplishments of humankind. Whatever our moral standards, our philosophies, our religions, and our commitments, man is godless. Godless man! And on the cross we see why. For whenever we stare G-d directly in the face, whenever She offers her hand of fellowship, we do not embrace Her but we put Her to death– because G-d is a threat in the eyes of godless man! And so, the great irony of our Gospel is that in the name of what is good, we put G-d to death– because He reveals parts of Himself that we are unprepared to see– whispers that which we are unprepared to hear. For as the LORD said to Moses, “You may only see my back!” And so, in the name of good, in the name of retribution, in the name of justice, in the name of the moral order, we reject G-d– we then become salt, without saltiness…light under a bowl. Man without G-d!

The hope of our godlessness is that we enter into G-d’s grace and transform by it. Where is grace whenever our works and morals give our lives its meaning? Where is grace whenever the moral order trumps our willingness to seek the work of G-d in all people?

The Christian narrative tells that if we live as if our works save us, we will eventually take up arms against G-d who reveals Himself and soon find ourselves hanging people on crosses. In the same way CS Lewis articulates his “Great Divorce,” I shall call this the “Great Hypocrisy.” The Great Hypocrisy is our break with G-d– our very divorce from Her.

This final piece I imagine captures this Great Hypocrisy and the One who speaks defeat into it. I present this next piece imagining Jesus speaking as prophet. I think of it as an oracle that reminds Christians that Christ must be worshipped in all things.

Indeed, the prophetic Word of Christ, “I am the truth!”

Because the bloody roots of Christianity are ultimately found among the victims of godless people in a world gone to worship the “god of emptiness”– a god that does not know Christ– a god who does not know grace. One of the great truths of our faith is that Truth is not in us– truth is a man. Truth is relative, because it is relative to Jesus Christ. For we are godless man and are nothing apart from the grace of Jesus Christ– the one who tells us the truth about ourselves. And so, I believe that this G-d of Jesus Christ speaks this oracle through his life on the behalf of all those who suffer at the hands of godless, lifeless, venomous people– religious and non-religious.

Nail Us to Your Cross
(Credit given to my friends and favorite metal band in St. Louis– MEGALITH)

I’ve seen your face in reflections of their tears
Self-proclaimed saints rise up to crush their fears
Haloed hypocrites donned in robes of white
Chastising smiles disguising minds of spite

Don’t look upon us with your pity and shame
Pathetic moral lies victimize and cast the blame
You can’t see the good for the evil that you spawn
Distorting all the truth and creating your pawns

Holy wealth proclaiming power supreme
We are here to see that you’re redeemed
Just as Pilate you have washed your hands
Sabbath day hymns become cries of the damned

Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross

I see your face in reflections of their tears
Self-proclaimed saints rise up to crush their fears
Haloed hypocrites donned in robes of white
Chastising smiles disguising minds of spite

Don’t look upon us with your pity and shame
Pathetic moral lies victimize and cast the blame
You can’t see the good for the evil that you spawn
Distorting all the truth and creating your pawns

Holy wealth proclaiming power supreme
We are here to see that you’re redeemed
Just as Pilate you have washed your hands
Sabbath day hymns become cries of the damned

Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross

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