God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
I remember an assignment I had in college. As a part of a class on Christian love and marriage, we were asked to draw the love of God. How would we capture it on paper? How does it make us feel? How would we depict it to others? While my peers grabbed the blue, green, and yellow crayons, I grabbed the black.
The alarm rang. We were called to share our pictures in our groups. One student revealed a picture of a teddy bear. Another of a unicorn galloping over a rainbow. Another of dancing butterflies in a green meadow. Still another a compilation of bubbles with smiley face emojis.
I went last, and to the surprise of my classmates, I showed a dark landscape filled with shadows, cracking earth, lightning, and three crosses erected on a hill. A place of torment. A place of darkness. A place of blood.
At the Heart of Our Faith
At the heart of the Christian faith, pulsing through its veins from first to last, is blood. There are crimson waters where we get cleansed, a Red Sea that we walk through to salvation. Only around these waters is there enough space upon the shore to lay our sins and burdens down.
At the heart of our faith is blood, flowing from our crucified Messiah. Shining bubbles floating in the sunshine will not do. Daffodils and lollipops and kittens pouncing upon the clouds will not depict the gravity of our sin and the glory of God’s love.
I would have drawn something similar to what my classmates did for many years if asked to do the same. I might have drawn a sunset or a basketball or my girlfriend, but not Calvary.
I would have done this because I did not apprehend that God’s greatest gift is not his stuff or even positive emotions and warm fuzzies, but himself. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). And to give us himself, to be with us eternally, he had to remove the seemingly insurmountable barrier: our sin.
We could not bathe in his holy presence or even sing worship songs to him in our filth and rebellion. A price had to be paid; a death had to occur; blood needed to be shed. And the only one who could do it, chose to: God’s own Son. And “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
What Blood Tells Us
Ours is not a frothy religion. It isn’t casual; it isn’t whimsical; it doesn’t float upon the surface. It’s not a kite soaring in the sky or kittens playing with some yarn. It isn’t a kid’s cartoon, and it isn’t rated G. All who stand redeemed, all who experience eternal joy beyond comprehension in the presence of their Savior, were redeemed by blood. Our faith is dipped in crimson, reminding us that though it contains the fullest joys, it is never trivial.
Blood at the heart of our faith, as attested by God’s word, reminds us that sin really deserves eternal damnation, that the gospel is actually the very power of God for salvation, that the world is really condemned apart from Christ, that adoption and full welcome are really offered through the substitutionary death (and subsequent resurrection) of the Savior for his people.
Atonement, a word that is the sum of its parts — at-one-ment — lifts the cross before the eyes of men, drawing all God’s people to be reconciled to him, to be at one-ment. We have no faith apart from this. This alone is the dark backdrop before which Jew and Gentile really stand together as one new man, brothers captured by amazing grace. We are redeemed by the blood, the blood of the Lamb. May we forever worship this Christ.