“The cross is the only power in the world which proves that suffering love can avenge and vanquish evil.”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 – 1945)
THE COST of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer is arguably the 20th Century church at its best. Perhaps Billy Graham and A.W. Tozer and Mother Teresa and Karl Barth (among a score of others) made as much of a contribution, but few literary works come close to Bonhoeffer’s thesis on the Christian life.
Bonhoeffer calls Matthew chapter 5 “the Peculiar” in that the Christian’s love is unfathomable in its resemblance of the cross.
As we absorb the blood of Christ into the gut of our souls, bearing the broken bones of our Saviour in our beings, we come home, afresh, to the central nuance of the gospel.
This gospel of the cross and the resurrection is, firstly, an outwitting of the devil at his own game and, secondly, it’s hope from embers.
When all appears calamitously forlorn, that is when the Christian hope rises from ashes.
What makes the cross conquer evil is the resurrection. The cross, of itself, was the foretaste of the victory to come; a prevue of evil’s demise. It crushed all of Satan’s prideful hope. And yet the fullness of the victory was then realised in the resurrection of our Lord.
But it was the cross that defeated the devil — a love evil could not see coming.
Think of the personal power of the cross, engaged with, embraced, carried, and ensconced.
It is most unfashionable, in any event, to associate with something as shameful as the cross. Yet, imagine its power when we do nothing but stand up in the face of an atrocity.
Evil has nothing against us in the making of the atrocity. It expects us to be upset. But the cross is peace in utter hell. The cross takes the fury of hell and withstands every barb pointed its way; better, it willingly receives the street-sweeping spray of shards! The cross makes a way for evil to do all it wants. And, in the end, evil is exasperated, because it cannot control our response.
Evil is defeated in the quiet poise of absorbing hurts by way of the cross.
Suffering love is the fullest portion of Christ’s Spirit; the very representation of the cross.
Suffering love vindicates the partaker. Their lack of reaction is the very key to victory, because love cannot fail when it’s under fire.
Suffering love is Christ’s victory at the cross, as it is ours of suffering love for the cross.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.