In my most recent sermon, I played off the theme of 1 Timothy 1:15 as a first century Christian commercial: "This saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." I had this line in my sermon: "God paid the ultimate advertising fee by allowing Christ Jesus to die on a cross."
It has come to my attention that this put a lump in some throats. The divine "allowance," of God letting Christ die on a cross affected some folks. So, briefly, I am going to flesh out a little bit more of what I meant by this.
But before I begin, I have to make one thing clear: what I am going to lay down here is a school of thought, not an article of faith.
Simply put, I believe that Jesus was, in the fullest respect, God incarnate. Therefore, God (Jesus) allowed himself to die on the cross by refusing the temptation to flee (as Jesus had done in other parts of the gospels, especially John). This shows the boundless freedom of God, that same freedom that is given to us. God allows us to die, and God allows us to live.
My guess is that many people would object to it like this, or in some similar fashion: "But how could God allow such a thing to happen. That clearly wasn't a 'good' thing, and we know that God only does 'good' things."
Here's my response. That statement has just made God into a human. In other words, we have taken our own ideas of "good" and "bad," "right" and "wrong," and forced them upon God. Put severely, this is mighty close to blasphemy. On the other hand, I believe that God's ideas of right and wrong are wholly different than ours: "my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, says the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8).
One last comment: this whole quest is an attempt to justify God. However, I think the more important question, the one that causes a lump to stick in my throat is this: how is it that God justifies us, and that while we visit evil upon our neighbors, God continues to love us to the end?