On Thursday I’ll be attending an online learning event to hear from Brian Zahnd. Brian is pastor at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO. I’ve been reading about him (no so much reading “him” for a while. His name has come up. And, when the learning event was offered through Ecclesia, I signed on and have been browsing some Brian Zahnd material. I thought for the next couple of days I’d highlight some of his writing and offer a brief comment.
The following is from a blog post from just about a month ago, called “The Cross as Counter-Script“:
Consumerism, as much as anything, has come to define much of America’s most visible expressions of Christianity. Take a quick stroll though “Christian TV Land” and you’ll see what I mean. This is what Janis Joplin mocked when she sang, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.” The cross heaps shame on all of this.
The American prescription for happiness is the script we’ve been handed. But it’s a lie. It’s a false gospel, yet enormously popular. The only possible way to resist that dominant script is through the adoption of what Walter Brueggemann calls a counter-script. For the Christian that counter-script is the gospel of Jesus Christ — at the center of which stands a cross!
When we are trying to relocate the center of authentic Christianity we are led to Calvary. Jesus promised paradise, not to those who prioritize personal happiness, but to one who was dying on a cross beside him….
In contemplating the cross we find the counter-script to Americanized Christianity. In drawing near to the cross we find the portal to a deeper, richer, fuller Christianity. But the cross is a costly portal. The price of admission is death. It means losing your false life to find your true life. The path to paradise is often the path of suffering. If our chief goal is to avoid suffering, we will probably never find paradise. Paradise is not found in the mall, it’s found on the Easter side of Good Friday.
I’m contemplating how the cross will provide a counter-script for myself and our churches this Lenten season.