“The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us [because of] the very nature of the [fallen] world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered abroad [as lightposts along the way].... It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacles to our return to God: the few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with old friends, a bathe or a football game, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Do you know what it is like to be surprised with good news?
Growing up I was an ardent Mets fan. During my childhood during the late 70’s and early 80’s, the Mets were the worst team in baseball. That all changed in 1986, when they made it to the World Series. However, they were down 3 games to 2 to the Red Sox in the best-of-7 series. In game 6, losing 5 – 3 with two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the 9th inning, I was devastated. We had come so close! I couldn’t bear to watch the final out. I turned off the TV and despairingly went upstairs to bed.
Imagine my surprise and joy the next morning when my mother burst into my room exclaiming, “THE METS WON THE GAME! THE METS WON THE GAME!” I raced downstairs to the TV to confirm the news. It was true! Bill Buckner had saved the day for the Mets! My despair turned to joy! I think it was my dad who said, with that twinkle in his eye, “O ye of little faith!” Ouch!
Can you envision the surprise and joy the women felt that first Easter morning when the angels proclaimed to them, “He is not here. He has risen, just as He said!” (I wonder if the angels had the same twinkle in their eyes that my dad had as they said, “just as He said.”) Three days earlier, the One in whom they had pinned all their hopes and dreams was brutally beaten and murdered, nailed to a cross. They went to His tomb that Easter morning expecting to find a dead Jesus. Instead, they found an empty tomb!
We just celebrated Easter, the historical fact that Jesus bodily rose from the dead and is alive forever, reigning as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He can not only forgive us by paying for our sin on the cross, but because He is alive, He can be known today and forever by all those who put their trust in Him. In receiving Christ may we know and worship Him who died, rose again, and is here with us by His Holy Spirit. For truly, JESUS WON THE GAME for us.
Alleluia! Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!
“If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless … your faith is futile … you are dead in your sins . . . and we are to be pitied more than all men.” I Cor. 15: 14,17,19
Before I met Christ, my impression of Christians was they were exactly as Paul wrote . . . useless, futile, anti fun, pitiful, and out of touch with reality. I would have agreed with Woody Allen who once said, “To you I am an atheist. To God I am the loyal opposition.”
All that changed when a few older friends helped me realize the truth of Christianity hinged not on the lives of Christians but on one historically verifiable [or not] fact: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Simply, as the Apostle Paul wrote, if Jesus was a real person who rose bodily from the grave on a specific day in a specific place in history, everything Jesus said or did has more authority than anyone or anything in the world - ever. If he didn’t, Christians are actually more pathetic than even I imagined.
So I set out on a two year quest to gain evidence as to why one should not be a Christian. Ultimately, my search led me to the conclusion that Jesus, in fact, existed, that the accounts of his life and death were trustworthy, that the disciples could not have stolen the body after he died, that Jesus was not resuscitated, and that more than 500 hundred eyewitnesses of His resurrection did not die for a lie.
Yet coming to an intellectual belief in the resurrection was not that life changing. The difference Jesus’ resurrection made came when I was challenged to ask God if I could actually meet Jesus in the here and now. I had been told that Jesus, in rising from the dead, was still alive. And He was not just seated at the right hand of God, but by His Spirit could be known and experienced in real life every day.
After much hemming and hawing, in June of 1983, I got up the nerve to ask Jesus if He was indeed alive. I asked Him to open my eyes, take away the wall of indifference, anger, and cynicism that was between us, and make me a part of God’s family. I asked Him if he could do all this without making me into the kind of religious person I dreaded.
And you know what? On that day I met Him. Or in truth, Jesus met me. I became alive to God. I knew He was alive and that my life direction had changed forever. My life became “God centered” rather than “me centered.” The fact that I would one day want – more than that, ask Him - to let me share the good news that He is alive as my “job” is one piece of evidence for the difference Jesus has made in my life
This Easter, may we not only become convinced in the facts of the resurrection, but may we be willing to meet the Lord who died and rose again for us and commit ourselves to getting to know Him better and better until we see Him face to face.
About the ResBlog
Members of staff and Vestry will be posting on the ResBlog to help us think through who we are in light of the gospel so that we might “spur one another on to love and good deeds.”