When people are good and God is bad

Author, Elena Ferrante recently wrote about her fear of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I was another teenage Eleanor who was left cold by the same story.

The cross seemed strange and frightening - a horrific loss of life that had nothing to do with me.

But trembling at Jesus’ death and resurrection isn’t the ultimate point of the story. It’s great news for fearful people.

Good People and an Evil God

Ferrante is concerned by how Jesus’ crucifixion shows well-meaning humans to be ‘depraved, devoted to crucifying its own kind… or getting crucified.’

She’s onto something. But we’re much worse than that. We didn’t just kill one of our own but the one who also made everything else (Acts 3:15).

For her, people are good. Wasn’t God to blame? Wasn’t he a ‘vile father’ who ‘abandoned his son’?

Well, no.

God the Son willingly died to fulfil God the Father’s rescue plan. God isn’t evil. In Christ, God died to defeat evil.

He took our punishment on himself so we, the guilty, would receive eternal life by believing in Christ (John 6:37-40).

‘Lords of the Universe’

Ferrante thinks the whole story is about us – how proud we are to place ourselves at the centre of a ‘night sky full of worlds’!

But Jesus rose to sit on God’s throne, not us (Hebrew 8:21). We’re no ‘lords of the universe.’ We bow before him, the risen Lord.

Isn’t it a greater act of pride to hear what God’s done for us, only to walk away calling him a ‘vile father’?

I would urge Ferrante -and us all- to regularly return to the resurrection story.

Hear Jesus’ words to the trembling Mary. ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father’ (John 20:17). 

The resurrection makes Jesus’ heavenly Father our own.

Elena, let your trembling turn to joy.