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John Stott on How the Cross Speaks to Injustice and Suffering

How does the cross of Jesus speak to a world of pain, poverty, and injustice? After explaining the full range of biblical ideas of the atonement, Stott concludes his book with a chapter entitled "Suffering and glory." He describes the miserable conditions of millions of people who live in shanty towns of Africa and Asia, the barriadas of Latin American and the favelas of Brazil.

Then he tells a story about an imaginary poor man from the slums of Brazil who climbs 2,310 feet up the mountain to the colossal statue of Christ that towers above Rio de Janeiro—"The Christ of Corcovado." After the difficult climb, the poor man finally reaches Jesus and says,

I have climbed up to meet you, Christ, from the filthy, confined quarters down there … to put before you, most respectfully, these considerations: there are 900,000 of us down there in the slums of that splendid city … And you … do you remain here at Corcovado surrounded by divine glory? Go down there to the favelas … Don't stay away from us; live among us and give us new faith in you and in the Father. Amen.

Stott asks, "What would Christ say in response to such an entreaty? Would he not say '[in the suffering of the cross] I did come down to live among you, and I live among you still'"?

Then Stott adds,

We have to learn to climb the hill called Calvary, and from that vantage-ground survey all life's tragedies. The cross does not solve the problem of suffering, but it supplies the essential perspective from which to look at it … . Sometimes we picture [God] lounging, perhaps dozing, in some celestial deck-chair, while the hungry millions starve to death … . It is this terrible caricature of God which the cross smashes to smithereens.

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