There are a number of more liberal theologians today who buck against the idea that Jesus’ death on the cross was a necessary payment for sin. They say that God is not a vengeful God who is angry at sin and trying to exact punishment for it. If anything, they say, on the cross, Jesus was just demonstrating the depth of God’s love for us.
Growing up, conversation around the dinner table was always lively. My family talked over one another, there was constant banter, and we were very sarcastic. It was just the way we communicated with each other. My wife did not come from a family like this, and when we married, she struggled to see the fun in needing to interrupt people and talk louder than everyone to get a word in. When my family would get together for dinner, my wife was outnumbered five to one, so majority wins and the banter would begin.
We can all look back and acknowledge some point where we chose the wrong just because it was wrong, because we had inward delight in and attraction to it. We all nurse some secret resentment of God and his authority.
Several years ago, I was speaking at a conference for college students. After my talk, I was asked, “What are the most important things that Christian college students should learn while they are in school?" I don’t remember what I said. I’m not great on the spot, so I imagine my answer was generic and only marginally helpful. But I have thought about that question a lot over the years. And now I have an answer.
Throughout the book of Judges, we see time and time again that God brings down the most powerful tyrants through weak human instruments simply doing his bidding. The writer is trying to make a point: God doesn’t need our ability (he never has), only our availability. God did it then, and he still does it today. He overturns unjust world systems through weak people walking in obedience.
Our city doesn’t need more enormous, mono-ethnic churches. Our country doesn’t, either. What our neighbors need are churches who can show what it looks like when the gospel saves diverse people, brings them together, and unites them in a faith community.