Tag Archives: Resurrection

Falling Off the Precipice: A Brave Easter

Unknown-1I’ve been reading David Brooks’ book The Road to Character. The book seeks the develop what Brooks calls the Adam II part of us. The Adam II part of us is “the internal Adam,” the part of us that wants “to embody certain moral qualities” (xii). Brooks believes that, as a society, we have failed to make the development of the Adam II part of us a priory. He challenges us to make it a priority by examining the biographical narrative and inner character of people throughout history. People like Dwight D. Eisenhower, Dorothy Day, George Eliot and Augustine.

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In his chapter on Augustine, brooks crafts a sentence that, if you are follower of Jesus, immediately forces you to take an account of your own life. In telling the story of Augustine’s conversion journey from a life of worldly but unfulfilling success to one of Christian faith and service, Brooks says Augustine “hung on an emotional precipice between a religious life he was afraid to sacrifice for and a secular life he detested but would not renounce.” 201

The picture Brooks’ thought creates is vivid. And I believe most of us stand exactly where Augustine stood. We stand on the precipice, the edge, having come too far to go back but unable to fully let go and jump.

So we stand, afraid to let go. Afraid to commit. Afraid of what it’ll look like to others. Afraid of the reality that when both feet leave the edge there’s no going back.

But that’s exactly what God calls those that want to follow him to do: jump. Commit. Let go. Surrender.

This isn’t Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith,” rather it is the decision to choose the things of God wholly, fully and completely and let go of (renounce) the things that appear to give security but are ultimately unfulfilling.

But just like Augustine, we are afraid to wholly, fully and completely choose the things of God because of the sacrifice that choice requires. We find that we are much more like the “rich young ruler” than Zaccheus- we just can’t bring ourselves to the sacrifice required.

What is it that God requires from us? What are the sacrifices we are afraid to make? There are different things for each individual. But there are sacrifices God calls all his followers to: love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and sacrificial love of neighbor.

If we desire to wholly, fully and completely choose the things of God, how can we do it? How can we be sure that the sacrifice will be worth it? In one sense we have to take it on faith. In another, however, we have the ultimate confidence that we are able to completely choose the things of God and do so confidently because of the resurrection of Jesus. In the Resurrection, we behold the ultimate proof that God’s word is true and that God’s word is powerful. It is the Resurrection that allows us to wholly, fully, completely and bravely choose the things of God and let go of the old life. In the Resurrection, God, through Jesus, defeated all enemies and gave all power, authority and dominion to Jesus.

If Jesus has everything, where is our hesitation to commit wholly, fully and completely to Jesus? One answers is that we continually choose lesser loves over the one great love that we find in Jesus. Holy Week invites us to fix our attention on the great love of God, the love that gave Jesus over to death on a cross. It invites us to re-commit ourselves wholly, fully and completely to the things of God and renounce the old life that we detest but somehow always entices us.

The challenge is for you and I to enter into God’s invitation and to choose that whatever sacrifice is asked of us, we have the bravery to embrace it because of the Resurrection.

 

-Bibliography

Brooks, David. The Road to Character. Random House. 2015.

Reclaiming Easter

"Resurrection of Christ" by Marco Basaiti, 1520

“Resurrection of Christ” by Marco Basaiti, 1520

I concluded my last post with the statement, “Easter shouldn’t sneak up on us and it shouldn’t be merely another day. It should be the highlight of our calendar year and the celebration of our whole lives.”

That is a statement that I truly believe and I truly believe it to be true. I find it telling that last week’s post got dramatically fewer hits than post in the previous weeks. It appears as if Easter really doesn’t mean much to us. How can we change that? How can we reclaim Easter?  I’ll suggest a few ideas.

1. We need the ability to explain what the Easter holiday means. I would guess that a majority of the people we are around everyday do not know what Easter means or why some public schools don’t have classes the Friday before Easter. I would also guess that a majority of Christians wouldn’t feel comfortable in trying to explain what Easter means. We need the ability to explain what Easter means and what it means to us.

2. We need a better theological understanding of what Easter means. The reason, I believe, that a majority of Christians wouldn’t feel comfortable explaining the meaning of Easter is because words and concepts like “resurrection” and “atonement” don’t come up in ordinary, daily conversation. And, as a whole, our churches have done a poor job of equipping Christians with a theological understanding vital concepts like “redemption,” “justification,” “atonement,” and “resurrection.”

3. We need theologians who will explore new ways in which the Resurrection impact and influences the life and the world in which we live. What does the Resurrection mean for the new racial tension in our country? How does the Resurrection influence social causes? What does it means for our finances, our families, our vocations? We need to explore these afresh.

4. Make every Sunday about the Resurrection. The reason the Christian Church meets together on Sunday (the first day of the week) is because that is the day Jesus rose from the dead. Every Sunday should be a reminder and a celebration of the Resurrection.

5. Finally, each of us should engage in some personal reflection on the events, the power and the personal meaning of Easter. Our culture has lost the ability to spend time in quiet meditation. Our lives are filled with noise and distractions- I’m writing this while getting the oil changed in my car and in a space under 500 square feet, there are five TVs playing a least three different programs. During this Holy Week, find some time to quietly reflect upon Easter.

The goal of reclaiming the meaning of Easter should not result in another mythical proclamation like a  “War on Christmas.” I don’t believe that there is some group trying to destroy the meaning of Easter through pastel colors, bunnies, chicks and marshmallow peeps. I believe that the world would truly want to hear the message of the Resurrection if they believed that it meant something and if they saw that our God really is alive. God tells the prophet Zechariah that when God comes to live with his people, “ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew [a believer], saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.””

Easter tells us that God did and has come to live with us- in fact, God lives inside of every believer. The Resurrection also tells us that we now live with God (Ephesians 2). If those around us knew that God was with us, perhaps then the words of Zechariah would become true in our day.