New Year’s Resurecction : Part 2 : Personal Reflections

(Author’s Note: This post is the second in a set of three considering the importance of Christ’s resurrection in the Christian’s life. The first post in the series can be found here…)

I’ve been struck by the resurrection of Christ, and its importance in our daily life, for quite some time. When we say we believe in the resurrection of Christ and that, through Him, we are granted eternal life, what we are really saying is, that somehow or another, those who have faith in Jesus are immortal. Wow! That’s pretty powerful!
But most of our current understandings of death make it anything but something to be anticipated with joy. Instead, Western thought by-and-large deals with death as something “tragic” or, at the very least, to be delayed as much as possible.
In Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, Eugene Peterson summarizes our present obsession with viewing death as either tragic or untimely. He explains:

The view of death as tragic is a legacy of the Greeks. The Greeks wrote with elegance of tragic deaths—lives pursued with the best of intentions but then enmeshed in circumstances that brought a fatal flaw into play and, indifferent to heroism or hope, cancelled the intentions….

Procrastinated death is a legacy of modern medicine. In a culture where life is reduced to heartbeat and brainwave, death can never be accepted as having meaning beyond itself…

It’s this negative view of death that can underline most, if not all, of the other core fears we face. For instance, isn’t the fear of death the underlying fear when we ask ourselves “Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing with my life?” or “What kind of legacy do I want to leave?” and even “How will history remember me?”

A proper, Christ-centered response to this question requires every believer to remember, as Peterson points out, that death, particularly Christ’s death, is ‘for us and our salvation’. In other words, if we truly, truly believed that, through Jesus, we have eternal life, these questions no longer have any place because they are all temporal questions, questions stuck in our view of our lives as something with a beginning…and an end. These questions emphasize an understanding of death as something that is final, as “the worse case scenario” for any situation.

Truly believing in the eternal life promised through faith in Jesus reminds me where I really need to focus is trusting and obeying Jesus in a moment by moment sort of way…because, somehow, through faith in Jesus Christ, there will always be more moments.

New Year’s Resurrection : Part 1 : Theological Considerations

(Author’s Note: This post is the first in a set of three considering the importance of Christ’s resurrection in the Christian’s life. I intended to post this series at the beginning of the new year (to explain the first paragraph), but hemmed and hawed over it for much too long…)

We are just now finishing up the first week of a new year. 2012 done, packed away. 2013 here, ready to unfold. Like so many others, I’m prone to think about what the past year brought to pass. I think about the  tears and the laughter, the heartache and the healing. The mistakes and second chances; the misgivings and the promises.

No matter how each of those equations turned out (did I have more tears than laughter, more heartache than healing?), the fact remains that the days are past—gone, finished. Past. Aside from the memories, all that remains at the end of a year is the promise of future days—the hope that no matter how good (or bad) last year was, this year can be—will be—better.

For Christians, its customary to celebrate this same hope in the future on Easter Sunday, a day signified by Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Through Christ’s resurrection, Christians believe, death has been eternally conquered and a new age (not just a new year) has dawned, and eternal life is available to all who believe. So while New Year’s offers rekindled hope for the next 365 days, Christ risen from the dead offers hope for eternity.

While on this journey of seeking out the abundant life Christ promises us in John 10:10, I’ve become increasingly convinced that how we understand Christ’s resurrection has absolutely real implications for how we live. So what does it mean for us to live in this hope on a daily basis? To actually experience the promise of new life and live out the tenant of our faith that promises us eternal life?

THEOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS
In my own experience, Christ’s resurrection from the dead is preached but not emphasized, especially when compared to the attention paid to Christ’s death on the cross. I suppose this unbalance makes sense, considering Christ’s death is a capstone to thousands of years of Jewish history (we know how things will turn out) while his resurrection is the first chapter in a future still unfolding (we don’t yet know how things will turn out).

Christ’s death is the culmination of Jewish history and by offering himself as a sacrifice for all mankind, Jesus participates in the God-ordained system (based on animal sacrifice) that allows us, His creation, to return to Him. In this way, Christ’s death provides the final chapter in the story of God’s work through His chosen people, the Israelites. His death answers the all-time question of how a sinful man can ever enter into right relationship with a perfect God. Christ’s death answers the question of redemption once and for all.

But while this final absolution of sin answers the most pressing question of our past, does not yet give us a promise for our future.

Consider for a moment how the meaning of the Gospel would dramatically shift if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead. Sure, we are able to have a hope in eternal life because we’ve now entered into right relationship with Him, but it is this hope, this assurance of days to come that drives the Christian narrative and makes it distinct from all other faith narratives.