There is a statue in the middle of Fuller campus, our seminary.
It is a statue of three men. Two of them are nailing the third on the cross. It is none other than a statue of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Statues are made and displayed to show the things we honor and value. We have the Statue of Liberty, the statue of George Washington, and the monument at the site of 9/11.
What can we say of this one as it relates what we honor in Christianity? I think the message is quite simple: We honor the savior who saved by suffering.
It is, to be frank, a statue which represents a great deal of truth to the gospel which we believe and preach. Yet however profound and provocative this statue is, I stood there today, staring blankly at it, with a great deal of questions in my heart. Of them, this one struck the hardest:
Do those that walk by this statue every day understand and embody its message?
I looked around and was tempted to search for the sharpest juxtaposition to the meaning of this statue. And while I could have easily picked a few here and there, there was only really one person I could speak about–me.
I watched this statue portraying the God whom I profess and love in his humble estate, brutally maimed and wounded, and there I realized that God was showing me something about the nature of his love that was clearly absent in mine.
His love was displayed through suffering. It was selfless. It cost him everything. Love for him was not without a price. For a love without price is no love at all.
The callings to be light, to be his hands and feet, in this world must be weighed with the damage that I will be inflicted upon. For to love someone, you must die. Love is by nature sacrificial. In Jesus’ suffering, there was love. In Jesus’ passion, there was love. In Jesus’ crucifixion, there was love.
Suffering without love is self-righteousness. It’s what people do to inform the people around them how great they are or how hard they work.
But love has no show. Love has tears. Love has stripes. Love wins.
And it this statue which again reminds me of this simple life-transforming truth: that God is love.