the seventh word

“Father, into your hands I entrust my life.” (Luke 23:46 CEB)

One way you can tell a true God from a homemade idol is that idols tend to promise us continuity, immortality, and security, being mirrors of our ideal selves. Israel was forced to leave the security of a well-functioning economy in Egypt and live with the freedom that God pushed her into in the uncertain wilderness. Our lust for “security” causes us to have the largest military budget of any country in the world. We so hope to establish ourselves by ourselves, in certainty and security, through our military hardware, our pension systems, our burglar alarms. Israel learned that the major threat to her security was not the Canaanites but rather the Lord. The prophets had to tell her that all attempts at “security” tend to be efforts to establish ourselves by ourselves, that is, idolatry.

But Israel existed only by God’s act. “It was because the Lord loved you” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Israel had no foundation, no means of existence, no secure reason for being here today or tomorrow, except as an undeserved, unearned, gracious act of God. Israel had to learn to worship her Lord even when circumstances (the exodus, the exile) did not warrant such confidence in God’s creative love. Abraham, the father of the faith of Israel, had to venture out to gain new not wear if he would walk with this God and be open to the promises of this God (Hebrews 11:1). Only God knew where Abraham was being taken. Abraham and Sarah had to let go and let God lead.

Of course the ultimate letting go, the ultimate Exodus and the final exile, the greatest of all insecurity is the annihilation of death. So when Christians speak of cross and resurrection, we are saying something akin to what Israel said when she remembered Exodus. We were nothing; then we were something, because of God. And we very well could be nothing again without God. Our only security is that much evaded insecurity that is called fidelity to a living God or, as Jesus put it here, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

William Willimon, Thank God It’s Friday: Encountering the Seven Last Words of the Cross, pp.76-77


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