Archives for the month of: April, 2015

What does it really mean to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus?  Most every Sunday our congregation proclaims in the Apostles’ Creed that “on the third day Jesus rose again from the dead.” But  if you pushed most Christians to the wall and asked them what difference this really makes in their lives, they would be hard pressed to answer.

I don’t believe it is all about us going to heaven when we die.  I do believe in life after this earthly life, but a bodily resurrection is not necessary for that.   He could have just ascended directly into heaven, sat down at the right hand of the Father, and let that be that.  What difference does it really to us make that he came back in a body after he died?

As I ponder all this, what comes to me is that Jesus came back in a body to claim our bodies, our lives, (and all creation for that matter) in the here-and-now for God.  When I read the stories about the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, what I see is a Jesus who takes possession of people, pours out his Spirit into them, and enters into a partnership with them to reclaim the world for God.  Unless we get this, I think we miss the big message of Easter.

Every Christian is meant to be possessed.  One of the reasons Christianity in our culture has become so anemic is that we think we can be Christian and do church just fine without being God-possessed, without having God at the center of our lives.  This keeps us on the good side of respectable without making us  move out of our comfort zones.  Otherwise we might start acting like those first Christians who were absolute fanatics.

Well, hear the good news of the resurrection (or the bad news depending on how you look at it): Jesus is alive and prowling around in the world right now.  He is after everything you are and have.  He is not interested  in the little bits and pieces of yourself you might be willing to give when it’s convenient.  He wants to take possession, fill you with his own Spirit, and give you a new life in partnership with God.  Easter is  a celebration of God’s committment to this world and our committment to God’s mission.  Otherwise, we may as well just let the Easter bunny have it.

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Dear Jesus, it is Holy Week and I am thankful you died on the cross for me.  But I have to say that I really do not want to go there myself.  In fact I have arranged my life carefully to lengthen the odds against coming near any crosses.   There are locked doors and security codes between me and the rabble.  I avoid Judas’ lips by keeping anyone like Judas out of my life.  I spend most of my time doing things that earn me the good opinion of others and a nice salary.  When all else fails, I make excuses and run away.  I am happy to let you do the heavy lifting while I follow at a distance, feeling sad for you and glad it is not me.

I realize that my allergy to crosses is a natural human response to pain.  You accepted it, not because you loved pain, but because you love us.  You love us like a mother tiger loves her young. And in return I fit you into my busy schedule when it is convenient for me.  I spend most of what you give me on myself.  I rarely shed a drop of psychic, let alone physical, blood for you.  I can talk the talk quite well for public consumption, but you know that the via dolorosa seldom sees my feet.

Lord, I feel you tugging on my life. But I cannot make myself love you more.  What I can do is pray. So I pray this:  light your flame in me, and by the Spirit’s power, do not let me smother it under a tepid blanket of moderation.