There are days I feel like I’m slipping down a dark well, losing grasp of everything that was firm and secure. Other days I feel like I’m building up a fortress to take stand against the forces of darkness. In the past few months my theology has shifted. My understanding of God has changed. It’s dreadfully scary to witness your core beliefs shift and morph. Where will you end up? What core beliefs will you shed? What new theological garment will you put on? I know for a fact that the me of three years ago would have considered the me of today a heretic. It seems bizarre, but this has only strengthened my faith. As I let go of my fundamentals, I can only cling to the Holy Spirit. And I pray that in my journeys it is Holy Spirit who guides me.
Today, I realized a seismic shift in my perspective of the work of Christ. For years, the central truth in my understanding of the good news was the death and blood of Christ. God’s righteous wrath poured out on his innocent son to save me from my sins and an eternal, conscious punishment. But that left me wondering about the resurrection. It seems like an afterthought. As though the work was accomplished but it couldn’t end there so the resurrection had to happen.
But no! As the apostle Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.” (1 Cor 15.14) He is the firstborn, that is, the first of many. What does this mean? Paul goes on to say more:
Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. -1 Corinthians 15.23-24
What does this mean? We have hope. We have hope eternal! But first we must consider death.
The death of Christ was atrocious. It was evidence of the fallen world in which we live in. The priests of God, the high priest, the pharisees, and all those religious people dedicated to bringing the people before God failed in their task. When the Israelites rebelled against God in the desert, Moses prayed to God, interceded on their behalf that they might not be wiped out. Moses stood for them. But the religious leaders turned Jesus over to the godless government, sacrificing him that they might maintain their power. It was a mockery of the service of God.
In the hands of Pilate and Herod, those in charge of administering justice, Jesus the ever innocent, was sentenced to death as a criminal. His trial was a mockery of Justice.
And in injustice and false religion, Jesus’ friends betrayed him and abandoned him. His death was a mockery of companionship.
Death. Death. The death of innocence. In death, justice he was denied, in death his intercessors became his oppressors. In death his friends became his enemies. His blood became death and baptized the barren ground.
In death he was marginalized by his people, betrayed by his government, and abandoned by his friends. It was the culmination of every injustice ever, heaped upon the one who never earned it.
But here, here is where hope springs eternal. In the ashes of the created good, God raised up a ph
oenix. God breathed life into the Christ and restored hope in the world. It is in the resurrection that death becomes life, and failure becomes hope. In Christ’s broken body and spilled blood, millions celebrate new life. We have Eucharist, thanksgiving, all while we circle around a symbol of brokenness.
So we too have hope. In the injustice of our world, we have hope in the justice of the resurrection. In the brok
en reality of family, we given a new reality in the familial blood of Christ. In the brokenness of adultery, we are given the fullness of the faithfulness of Christ. In the brokenness of illness and cancer, we have the hope of a new body. Every dark power that works against the good of the Kingdom of God WILL be overthrown and the justice of God will reign eternal forevermore. Amen.
It is only in the resurrection we have hope. And it is in death that we see how great that hope is.