(Blog 2 of 3)
What about the Resurrection?
Christianity without the Resurrection? I don’t believe so. Simply put, in my mind, without the Resurrection there is no Christianity! My wife and I came to believe that, during those early years which we refer to as the real beginning of our Christian walk. If we could not believe in the Resurrection, then we could not be Christians. That remains central to our faith.
As I tried to recall the years of my youth, the hundreds of church services I attended (usually under duress), the hundreds of dad’s sermons heard, slept through, and also read, I did not grasp the importance of the Resurrection, which I feel is so key now. I do see Dad’s emphasis on the ministry of Christ, the power that belief brings to good works, the sense of being a “good” person, and the lessons that Christ’s life teaches us. But the Resurrection? Not so much.
What I thought was missing from dad’s sermons and conversations was what Luther and St. Paul call justification by faith alone. Meaning that belief in Christ is all you need, because it will shape your life, your relationships, your thoughts, your behavior. At the core? The great commandment from God to Love. That piece of the faith puzzle finally fell into place for me as an adult.
Yes, but what about the Resurrection? My belief follows this thought: God came into this world in the form of the baby Christ. He experienced life as a human, was crucified and buried. His Resurrection, or His returning to life, served as proof of all that He taught and did while a human. That takes on meaning for us through our belief or faith in God.
The whole idea of the Resurrection is a stumbling block for many people. We get tangled up in literal versus figurative understandings of Scripture. I cringe when I hear that figurative understandings are a form of hypocrisy, and if you do not believe the whole Bible, literally, how can you call yourself a Christian? I tend to smile and explain that I have no difficulty accepting with the virgin birth, the crossing of the Red Sea, Jonah and the whale, through the entire panoply of prophecy, story and historical fact, each has meaning for me as part of my broad span of belief, each has a lesson to be learned. So, I take the full implications of the Resurrection on faith, supported by historic fact.
In addition to all that, I believe that the Bible, the entire Bible, is God inspired. Communication in ancient times was oral and stories, inspired by God, were created to communicate what God wanted us to know. Are they statements of fact? I don’t know. Did those events happen exactly the way they are presented? For me, it doesn’t matter. They are all an important part of the fabric of God’s gift.
Back to the question of hypocrisy. Not long ago I read a short piece by La Rochefoucauld which raised a question: Is hypocrisy a sin? On one hand, as a social construct, it seems like a rather simple issue…does hypocrisy really matter if it keeps you out of conflict? Any Christian worth his/her salt would have to confess to some degree of hypocrisy. I mean, how do you really love your neighbor as yourself? And what does that mean? Even more demanding for the Christian are the words of Jesus – “love others as I have loved you”! And to that I say yikes! How do I get that done? How can I apply in life what the God of love has given us? I guess that answers my own question. He has gifted us! We do the best we can, and are forgiven when we fall short.
I never get to the point of fooling myself that where my hypocrisy has taken me is not sin because I know I am a sinner in that, for example, it is really hard for me to love some people, even though I may say I do. I am weak, but if that “white lie” prevents a conflict, then okay? Call me a coward!
Often the hypocrisy is between what I say and what I actually think. Or, perhaps, what I say and the way I act. My hypocrisies in the confines of this bit of writing are wide and varied, but too often my talk, which is (most of the time) fairly magnanimous, generous and compassionate, does not parallel my walk, how I act, how I involve myself in “good works” and how hard it is for me to leave my comfort zone in order to respond to perceived need!
So I bumble along, day by day, living my life as best I know how. Keenly aware, when I fall short, that my God, not only has equipped me, but is there with me as I bumble, guiding me through circumstance and real life events. And I try, with the full belief that through all the implications of the Resurrection I’m in good hands.
Still and all, my Lord does not require me to be perfect – thank you, Jesus! What He does require of me is to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8) I would guess in the final analysis, what society and myself may consider hypocrisy disappears as I seriously seek to act justly, as I truly love mercy and, with difficulty, walk as humbly I can with Him. How about you?
Next, Blog Thots: 103 — Faith in the “real” world. My God bless our journeys.
For What It’s Worth.