Saturday, March 16, 2013

Healing Handkerchiefs and History's Greatest Shame

Late night infomercials are never a good idea. You end up buying things like Hawaii Chairs and Slumber Sleeves. Then you waste all your money to fill your house with things that were supposed to make your life more convenient. Then you inconveniently find yourself out on the streets, eating dog food and peddling alarm clocks just to stay alive.

I'm sorry. That was a bit far, I realize that.

In any case, I'm not sure if you've ever seen these, but they're called Green Prosperity Prayer Handkerchiefs. Essentially, these are little green washcloths that have been "anointed" by the prayers of a man named Don Stewart. They're for the purpose of healing those who would use it. Well, rather than delve into why that makes me angry enough to punch a squirrel from the unbiblical nature of what this product is teaching, I'm going to use this to make a point.

People like attributing marvelous qualities to inanimate objects.

Take the cross, for example. We always talk about the cross in worship music, testimonies, witnessing opportunities, etc. Christians like to talk about how the cross symbolizes redemption, glory, and forgiveness.  Many of us wear cross jewelry. We have cross lanyards that hang from our rearview mirrors.We even use the cross to make analogies. If you've ever given or received a gospel tract, you've probably seen the the cross pictured as the thing that bridges the chasm between us and God. Or, if you're like me, you've recently heard that the cross's vertical beam connects us to God, and the horizontal beam connects us to other people. In short, the cross is attributed with hundreds of qualities that describe its greatness.

Problem: the cross was a torture device.

For us to wear a tiny, golden cross is the equivalent of us wearing a tiny, golden electric chair. Or lethal injection needle. Or noose. In other words, it's cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs crazy for us to wear something that would signify an intentional, and deliberately tortuous death.

Even Satan saw this. He had it all planned out. He would watch with relish as the maker of the universe, his opponent, died the most shameful of deaths - a criminal's punishment on a cross. The Romans' most humiliating torture tool would be put to its full use, and the Devil's satisfaction would be complete.

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50)
Sorry, Satan. It turns out that your best efforts to make Jesus look weak actually made His death one of the clearest expositions of God's simultaneously displayed qualities of strength, love, and wrath. Your most valiant attempt at humiliation actually fell on your own head when the God of all creation purchased back all of mankind with His death. So, as you crawl away in shame, don't let the door hit you on the way out, 'cuz I'm all out of healing handkerchiefs.


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