When looking for solutions to problems, the cross and the resurrection aren’t the pragmatic solutions we are looking for. It does not put food on our table, get our loved ones out of the hospital, pay our bills or get us to work on time. Most of the problems that vex our political commentators from security to budget deficits to health care to immigration to a host of others seem a world apart from the Jesus’ death and resurrection. It certainly does not decide policy or overcome political divides.
And yet, God sent Jesus into the world to the cross and resurrection as a pragmatic solution to humanity’s real problem. For reconciliation with God to happen the cross and resurrection were vital. For the re-ordering of the human heart to occur its lifeline to God’s heart needed repair. For kingdom to come, Jesus needed to do what even the disciples saw as defeat. It was a pragmatic solution to a real problem. The only solution that would work.
I remember reading the address of Fredrick Buechner to seminary graduates where he reminds the students that they are about to embark on a foolish journey as preachers.
“And yet. The “and yet” of it is our faith, of course. And yet, Paul says , “the foolishness of God is wiser than men,” which is to say that in some unsearchable way he may even know what he is doing. Praise Him.” (The road goes on, in A Room Called Remember)
Which makes the remembrances and celebrations of this week central to the practical solutions so many seek. Atonement. Sacrifice. Suffering Servant. Empty Tomb. Jesus explaining the Scriptures. New life. Except it also means that we take up our cross. It means that we embrace the mind of Christ. It means we seek Christ’s kingdom before our own. It not other worldly. It is about learning to love even our enemies and not live in fear. It means reaching across racial divides. It means learning to live as husband and wife with the love of Christ. It means living generously within our means - not chasing elusive dreams. Because we have learned from Jesus that we do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
This is the foolishness of God. Pragmatic and life giving foolishness of God. And if we feel tension because the cross and resurrection preached this week is not practical or dramatic enough… maybe that’s our problem, not the preacher’s or God’s.