When I see the blood, I will pass over you. Exodus12:13
It’s curious to me how clean and tidy we have tried to make our Christianity here in the United States. It’s happening elsewhere too, but not everywhere. What I mean is that we have this desire to make our faith attractive (as if being forgiven of everything you’ve ever done, being offered this for free, love and acceptance and all the rest isn’t attractive enough!). Somehow the church has bought into the idea that we are selling something instead of living something.
Many churches these days shun from using language about sin, our need for God, or holiness. Not too long ago, as we visited several different churches we were astounded at how many hesitated to use the Bible much or talk directly and candidly about Jesus. The culture of church seems to have committed to looking as much like a country club as possible. We wouldn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable.
I’m thinking of this today, not just because I felt like ranting on the church. I love the church. It’s why this reality pains me so much. But I started thinking about this because of reading about the Passover in Exodus 12. It is messy and there are lots if lose ends that appear and lots of justice questions that might arise and lots of blood. In short there are lots of things that might make the Christians today very uncomfortable.
Is it right for God to kill innocent first-borns because their parents refuse to follow God’s direction? Is it just to have families suffer these great losses who may have known nothing of the conversations between Pharaoh and Moses? Why all the blood? Couldn’t God just know who the Israelites were and who the Egyptians were?
Like I said, it’s very messy. But as I read it I was struck by how necessary it was. How important. Isn’t it ironic that we are comfortable with saying God would stop at nothing to bring us to him so long as that nothing just means him sacrificing his own divine son? As soon as we suspect that some person on earth, some sinful person, may have suffered a tragedy in order to bring all of humanity face to face with Jesus we find it awkward and possibly unjust?
These are the Israelites who are the people out of whom the Son of God will be born into the world in order to bring all of humanity the offer of salvation. And God will stop at nothing to make sure they are freed to become that people. So that Christ may come. This is a messy reality, but it is also a loving reality.
And the blood. Why are they spreading blood on their door frames? Why must each family kill an animal? Because even free gifts aren’t free. Sure, this Passover, this rescue is free to the Israelites, but it did cost. Many Egyptians families that night knew very well the cost. The same is true with us. Forgiveness is free and salvation, eternity, relationship with the Father—it’s all free for us. But it cost God dearly. It’s important to know this. To see this. To be reminded of this. So the Israelites kill an animal and wipe its blood on their doorframes. And they were expected to remember this always. To keep it before them as a reminder of the bloody cost of redemption.
This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord . Exodus 12:14
For us today, we should keep sight of the blood too. The blood of Christ. We as his followers should talk about it, remember it, embrace its messy truth. Without the blood and injustice of Jesus’ sacrifice we have nothing.
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13
Instead of attempting to clean things up and make our faith more palatable to the world, we should embrace it in all its messy truth. Embrace it in all its reckless love that will stop at nothing to draw us to God and his life.
Today our church celebrates baptisms which will be an awesome experience and celebration for us. Certainly we’ll be singing some celebratory songs. Kool & the Gang’s Celebration anyone? But I would be surprised if we weren’t also singing something like Only Your Blood simply because, like it or not, this is about blood. And we should embrace it.