By Doug Esse
Moving From Atonement to At-One-Ment
As a younger person, Good Friday was a time when I was supposed to feel deeply grateful for Jesus taking on my sins upon a horrible death upon the cross. The feelings were a mixture of gratitude, guilt, shame, and resolve.
But once I no longer believed in a violent atonement theory where Jesus needed to shed blood in order to placate a wrathful God so that humanity could gain access to heaven, I went through a period of time trying to process days like Good Friday with new eyes; eyes that see from the nous, the heart.
Love Cares because Love Knows
It’s not a guilt/shame dynamic that I feel anymore but rather a deep honoring of, and gratitude for, Jesus’ commitment and integrity to living out his mission.
A main aspect of his mission was to reveal to the world not only an enfleshment of the Perennial Tradition, but expanded the Perennial Tradition to reveal the very nature of Love. Jesus’ revelation of Love shows God to be in rooted solidarity with all of creation, especially our human condition.
Sacred Moments Celebrate Universal Sacredness
Sacred days like Good Friday, and sacred rituals like the sacraments, celebrate somewhere sometime what is always and everywhere the case. God through Christ shows:
…How all of creation is anointed from the beginning,
…That creation is the hiding place of the invisible God,
…That the division between the sacred and profane is an illusion,
…That the cycle of living, dying, and rising is how God eternally creates and renews, and
…That God’s heart is mercy, forgiveness, and solidarity through the path of surrendering and vulnerability.
How Does Christ Save Us or Redeem Us?
God, through the Crucified Christ liberates, saves, and rescues us from our instinctual fear of surrendering, dying, or letting go because the whole “life-cycle” of reality was revealed already on the Cross. Dying leads to rising.
God, through the Crucified Christ, also liberates us from our massive and ever-present compulsion to scapegoat others as we project our own shadows onto whomever we find less than.
“He Became Sin On Our Behalf”–2 Cor 5:21
Some have said that the scapegoat mechanism is the great “sin” of humanity that keeps us entrapped in the false self–which is to be “enslaved by sin.” God through Christ became the Great Scapegoat, the Saving Victim, the Sacrificial Lamb–“became sin”–in order to become a kind of cosmic mirror where we can see our own reflection as we continue to crucify Christ in others when we point and blame.
Journey Towards the True Self and the Journey Towards God Is the Same Journey
Thus, imitating Christ even unto our deaths on our own crosses of our lives and doing so with integrity and the spirit of compassion and forgiveness, saves us from the grip and illusion of the false self and leads us to our embodiment of the true self.
As Richard Rohr often says, “Nothing [magically] changed on Calvary, but everything was revealed.”