Sometime between 1574 and 1577, St. John of the Cross was in Avila, Spain. He had a vision of the crucifixion of Christ and later made a drawing of what he saw in his vision. Salvador Dali saw St. John’s drawing and then added his own interpretation in order to make this painting. What I love about this painting, is that if you look closely, you will see that Christ is hanging above the earth and has no nails holding His hands or feet to the cross. He is held there by the love He had for humanity. We are looking down on Him and see Him from The Father’s perspective. You will also see seven mountains below the cross which represent the seven continents, signifying that Christ died for the entire world. In the foreground, there is a boat with men standing by ready to go out as they prepare their nets in order to fish for men.
Of all the paintings I have seen of Christ on the cross, including those dating back several centuries, this is my favorite. To me, it signifies the universality of Christ’s death. As you think about Christ on the cross this week, I hope you will keep this image in your mind also. Remember, it was Love that held Him there.
“Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29
Have you ever watched one of the National Geographic specials on television about the Serengeti? Especially beautiful are the migrations of the gazelles and zebras as they cross the plains. If you look closely though, following them in the tall grass are the hyenas. I watch them with horror as I see the packs get into position to attack one of the weak or the young of the herd. At that point, I can’t watch the program any longer, I really can’t. I turn the television off because I am so angry at the hyenas. If there ever was an animal that is easy to hate, it is the hyena.
As I watched the demonstrations in the last few weeks, I noticed the hyenas at the edge of the crowds. I knew instinctively that there would be trouble as they tried to take advantage of an already volatile situation. And true to form, they looted businesses, burned buildings and beat innocent individuals, some of them even to death. I grew angry as I watched them throw Molotov cocktails and destroy what it took people years to build. My anger continued towards them and my heart became hard when I thought of them. There was no love for them in my heart at all.
As I was thinking about them and the destruction they left in their wake, the Lord convicted me of my attitude. He doesn’t want me to have hate in my heart, even for those who hurt and destroy other people’s lives. Of all the crazy things, He wants me to have His kind of love for them, Agape Love. Agape Love is a love that loves unconditionally no matter what someone has done. He wants me to pray for them and pray they will see the error of their ways and turn their lives around. If that’s not enough, He even wants me to pray a blessing on their lives.
So, I have begun to pray for them because I don’t want hate to get a foothold in my heart. At first it was difficult, but as the days have gone by, it is getting easier and easier to pray for them. I haven’t been able to pray that God would bless them yet, but my heart is getting softer and even that doesn’t seem like such a stretch any longer.
I don’t know how you feel about hyenas, but if you are struggling with anger and a bunch of negative emotions, talk to the Father of Lights about it. He will give you His Agape Love. It will fill your hearts and you will find your attitudes changing. In the end, only Love will change the day; not force, not violence but God’s love producing goodwill in our hearts towards all men.