Luke 24:6 "He is not here, but is risen!"
Sundays are about resurrection. And this Sunday is about the Resurrection. I’ve never gone to church to feel better about myself, or to get tips on how to make my daily life better. I go to worship a Person, who has made promises to me. And with His greatest promise, He asks me to trust Him.
When I was very little, I remember being taken into my grandpa’s bedroom to say goodbye to him. He had lost almost 100 pounds, and couldn’t get out of bed. His cancer had devastated his frame – it was the beginning of my understanding that life on earth has a finality to it. After he died, my parents tried to console me by assuring me that he is now “in a better place”, where he isn’t suffering anymore. It really didn’t help that much at the time, because when I asked to go to the ‘better place’ and be with him I found out it was impossible.
But I have learned a great truth about Christianity, which separates itself from any other worldview and has now helped me reconcile my youth with my aging years ahead. And it is this: the Christian doctrine of Resurrection was never intended to offer you consolation for the life you wanted but didn’t get in this world. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the historical certainty, given to you by God, that your life will be restored to the life God has always intended for you. Eternal life with God is not the consolation prize for your pain and suffering today – it is your Heavenly Father’s restoration of the abundant life He wants for you.
In Eastern religions, the belief is that each of us simply returns to that great ‘World-Soul’, where our physical Iives are gone and we are absorbed back into the ‘Circle of Life’. Secular humanism tells us that life is only the here and now, then we are ‘unplugged’ like a computer and we simply ‘cease to be’.
Christianity shakes the foundation of that thinking. It disturbs those who live in a world where things are relative, because it doesn’t just offer a story about what someone thinks might happen – it offers absolute claims. It stands on a single polarizing figure in history who testifies to a truth about life as a continuation after our material life is over. We read this account in John 11:23-26, where Jesus Christ is not just asking Martha this question, but every one of us: “Jesus said to her ‘Your brother will rise again’. Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky understood this. He was sentenced to eight years of hard labor at a Siberian prison, classified by the Russian government as ‘one of the most dangerous convicts’. His feet and hands were kept in shackles until his release. His crime? Dostoyevsky was accused of reading literature that criticized Russian politics and religion. He was granted only one request – that he could keep and read his New Testament. It was the only book allowed to be read in the camp.
In his famous book ‘The Brothers Karamazov’, he explains how the future hope of a resurrected life brings restoration to the broken world we live in: ‘I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”
I am not that excited to “go to a better place” someday. My expectation is that Jesus Christ will keep His word to me, as He always has and as He demonstrated by rising from the dead. That not only will He one day bring the pain and suffering of this life to an end, but the life He has intended from the beginning for me and each of us who places their faith in Him will be restored. And this Easter Sunday, I am going to praise Him for not only what He has accomplished for me, but what He plans for my eternal future. And based on His promises, my future looks very bright indeed.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.