You know what’s a crazy thing? Resurrection from the dead. And also the fact that every year we celebrate that Jesus was murdered and then came back to life.
I don’t mean crazy in the sense that you are crazy if you believe this. I believe it. It is the foundation of my faith. Yet every year, I feel like Easter comes, I celebrate, and it doesn’t hit me as deeply as it should how incredible what we’re celebrating truly is.
A few weeks ago, I was reading 1 Corinthians, chapter 15. In this letter, Paul calls out some people in the church who have ceased to believe in the resurrection. Several times, he tells them that their faith is in vain if they reject the belief of the resurrection. The first time he says this is in verse 2:
“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I have preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”
And then again in verse 14:
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
And again in verse 17:
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile: you are still in your sins.”
And again in verse 19:
“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
I think his statements are pretty clear: faith in Christ means nothing without resurrection from the dead.
About a year and half ago, I went to a discussion on Genetically Modified Organisms. To be honest, I didn’t have much to offer this conversation, but it was interesting to listen to other people’s opinions, fears, and questions on the subject. At my table, the conversation kept circling around to the fact that we just don’t know enough about GMOs to know the impact they will have on less modified organisms around them and our world as a whole. Yet, even those who felt negatively about GMOs said that if they were used in medicine and it was GMOs or death, they would choose GMOs.
Sitting in the middle of that conversation, I had a sudden thought: the conversation was not really about GMOs, it was motivated by a fear of death. As I considered this, I started to see everything through this lens. Religions debate each other because if one is wrong, then what they think leads to life actually leads to death. People seek money to give them better security to maintain their lives and put off death as long as possible. Even a desire to find purpose can really be motivated by a fear of death—if we make or do something that lasts in some way on this earth, even though we have to die, our legacy lives on, “avoiding death.”
The other thought that struck me in that conversation was the true power of Christ. Because he died and rose again, those of us who believe in him do not have to fear death. We don’t have to live in such a way that death is always looming at our doors. If we die, we die knowing that death too is under his domain.
But how many of us truly live like that? Sure, we celebrate this fact once a year at Easter time, but do we celebrate it each day in the way that we live our lives? Are we still living out of a fear of death rather than a belief in a God who has conquered all things?
This is a challenging question for me. It is easy to say that I have no fear of death when death is not close, but I also pray that even when it draws near, my hope, my security, my life remains rooted in the fact that Christ died for me and triumphed over death, that I might share in that triumph as well. This is why we celebrate Easter.