So, I've never really understood lifting. Of course, I comprehend that lifting weights helps to tone and build muscles, but I've never been one whose been invigorated by the activity of lifting.
RP, though, is sold out for lifting. This guy, my friend from Columbia, SC, finds an incredible amount of life through lifting. He likes to lift with friends.. From the burn and sweat to the achievement of new personal bests, RP is driven by the act of lifting.
This Sunday, many churches will celebrate Holy Cross Day, or the Festival of the Holy Cross. This commemorates the role of Christ's Cross in God's work of salvation. Yet, the 1st Reading commended by the Revised Common Lectionary is Numbers 21, where people are healed from the poison of snakebites by staring at a bronze serpent Moses made and raised on a staff.
Except that, as many throughout church history have understood, this is a prefiguring of the work of Christ. Just as God healed the Israelite people through a snake raised on a staff in the wilderness of their journey toward the Promised Land, so too God heals all people through a Son raised on a Cross in the wilderness of our sin.
When RP lifts, he finds life through the continual raising of a weight. It strengthens him. Tones him. Invigorates him. But it is his work.
When God lifted Christ on the Cross and then lifted Christ from the tomb, it strengthened us, shaped us for the Kingdom, invigorated us with the life of Christ. The key difference between the gym and the Cross is that our work eventually gives way. The muscles we build will eventually atrophy, even RP's, though not for a very long time with the way he works out. But the lifting that God does, the lifting of the Son on the Cross, is eternally significant. That is a work that does not fade away. The cleansing of our sin is done once for all, a reality forever sealed in the blood of Christ.
So, this Sunday, give thanks for the Cross, because in a world that places infinite demands on you, God lifts up two hands and does it all for us instead.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.