it has been about three months since easter…so it may now be an appropriate time to talk about resurrection. being one that has been a part of the church my entire life…i have found it increasingly interesting over the years how we isolate and discuss the resurrection one time a year and then hide it away to be yet discovered again the following year. this is haunting. the resurrection of jesus christ is the most pivotal moment in history and evidence that death does not have the final say. conventional wisdom, and common sense, says that when people die they are dead. that is a fact. so the very notion and belief of one having power over death and resurrecting to life after three days dead in a tomb ought to…not only cause every single person on the planet to deal with and consider its’ implications…but ought to completely and radically transform those who believe it.
a 2007 study by the barna group indicates that in most ways…christians are no different than non-christians in lifestyle behaviors. the study compared those who identify themselves as born-again christians to those who do not identify themselves as christians. the results were sobering and revealed that there was not a statistical difference between the two groups when looking at behaviors such as gambling, recycling, looking at pornography, stealing, getting drunk, fighting and retaliating against others, and getting divorced.
skeptics are quick to point out the contradiction and hypocrisy of christians, citing the irony as evidence that God does not exist. other cynics…like myself…who believe in God and the centrality, historicity, and life-changing nature of the resurrection through the work of the holy spirit…see the contradiction and hypocrisy as evidence that many christians view jesus as only good for “personal salvation” but not life transformation. in essence… Jesus is good for me to get “saved” while I watch the world go to hell in a hand-basket…so it goes. in contradiction to this sentiment…jesus did not come to create a special group of “saved” people…rather a kingdom of priests that offer themselves as living sacrifices used by God to restore a broken and fractured world.
the dilemma for the 21st century church in the united states is how to help people broaden their limited view of jesus christ…as merely the means for salvation…but also as the one who announced and embodied the kingdom of God and who invites his followers to be a part of this kingdom that operates and orients itself around the life-changing reality of the resurrection. This kingdom movement is not contained or constrained by bureaucratic institutional thinking within organized religion or the walls in which organized religion is housed. it is a new way of living that breaks forth with so much force and so wildly that the masses are drawn to it. it is a kingdom that manifests in self-sacrificial love, not resisting evil, going the extra mile, giving the shirt off your back, forgiving and reconciling, and embodying wholeness in all relationships. it is a kingdom that does not give up on people, get frustrated or angry with people, judge people, or tear people apart with actions and words. it is a kingdom of patience, kindness, joy, and love. in this kingdom defined by the resurrection, we proclaim to follow jesus with our words and then actually take steps together to make the Word flesh in our everyday lives becoming the body of christ in our world.
it is simply not enough to say the right words, have the right beliefs, participate in bible studies, wear a cross on your neck, put a fish on the back of your car, go to church service on sundays, or depend on the political process to change the world. Word becoming flesh actually…literally…means becoming a new creation that manifests heaven on earth each and every moment of the day. it means dying to the old self and experiencing the resurrection full on everyday with every breath you take. we become individually transformed by the resurrection and together become a community defined by the resurrection.