Negotiation: For Jonathan Powell, the former chief of staff to Tony Blair, “the key attribute [of negotiation] is pragmatism” . When interviewed by FiveBooks, he said, “Not everyone accepts that as a starting point. Some groups believe it’s a form of sin to compromise. I remember negotiating with the Orange Order in Northern Ireland. They would turn up and say: ‘Here is our position’. I would take it to the Catholic nationalists and they would present a different position, which I would take back to the Orange Order, who would say: ‘No, you don’t understand. We told you what our position was. It would be wrong to move from that in principle’. That’s the problem if you have a position of principle that leads you into conflict. If you’re pragmatic, you can negotiate. At the root of it all is a willingness to make concessions and see the other side’s point of view.”
Gospel: Is the gospel a negotiation? At first glance, it might seem so. After all, at the beginning, God demanded perfect righteousness, but soon it became obvious how sinful His people were. His principles were going to get Him nowhere. So He got practical. He became willing to make concessions. Right?
Cross: On the cross, however, we see that the gospel is not a negotiation. God did not concede His demand for perfect righteousness. He kept it. The Lord poured out His wrath for our sin on Jesus, who bore that pain in love for us. The gospel is a kiss, not a negotiation. As the Psalmist sang, “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other” . As Tim Keller explains, “Jesus was so holy that he had to die for us; nothing less would satisfy his holy and righteous nature. But he was so loving that he was glad to die for us; nothing less would satisfy his desire to have us as his people” .
Prayer: Lord, As we look upon the cross, let us be humbled of our pride and self-centeredness by seeing its demand for righteousness and let us be affirmed out of our discouragement by seeing its offer of love and peace. May the cross inspire us to hate our sin even as it forbids us to hate ourselves. Amen.