Reflections on the Resurrection
I tend to be a pretty cynical person. It’s a character flaw, I know, and I do try to work on it. When I was younger, I wasn’t like that. I was actually something of an idealist and a romantic (in the traditional sense of the word). I think what happens is that when an idealist encounters the brokenness of the world, and the fallen-ness of people, you can quite easily fall into cynicism.
We’ve talked a lot about the brokenness of the world. Indeed, we could go on about it because it’s not that difficult to do. But the world is pretty great too. I’m pretty sure I’ve shared it here before, but there’s a comedian who used to do this bit called, “Everything is amazing and nobody’s happy.” He would essentially talk about how people seem to be committed to being miserable, even though the world we live in is full of amazing things.
We can talk to people instantly from, basically, anywhere in the world with these miniature computers we all (mostly) carry around in our pockets. And these computers can also tell you pretty much whatever you want to know, whenever you want to know it. We can travel across the country in a matter of hours. Not very long ago, that trip would take many months, if you even survived it. Yes, we all know people who are suffering, tragically, from cancer. But the number of diseases which can be successfully treated or have even been eradicated are amazing.
And these are just some of the practical things that human beings have accomplished. We haven’t even taken into account the poetry, music, and art that human beings are capable of. And we are able to laugh and love and make the best of the most horrendous situations. We raise families and we build communities and we pass things on to the next generation. And, while not everyone agrees on the need or the extent of environmental protection, we usually agree that the planet on which we live is pretty great. And we all agree, unless you’re a psychopath, that we’d like to continue on living on this planet. We want to keep the mountains, and enjoy the oceans, and smell flowers and eat good food.
Because good food is pretty great. I realize that we all have to take care of ourselves and watch what we eat, but eating good food is one of the great joys of (my) life. A perfect day for me would have to include some kind of great meal. Whether it’s a perfectly cooked rib-eye steak, a spicy curry, a great pasta – it could be Mexican food, Indian food, Greek food, Chinese food, or Korean food. And one of the wonders of food is how it brings people together. How families and communities are bound together by what happens around the table.
So, in light of all of the wonders in the world around us, how does someone wind up a cynic like me? Well, on the one hand, it’s a personality flaw. It’s an unwillingness to see the goodness of the world, choosing rather to focus on the flaws. On the other hand, the world is flawed. Nothing is as it should be. Because of sin, not only are we flawed – unable to be what we were created to be, but creation is fallen along with humankind, because of humankind – unable to be what it is created to be.
This is the reality of sin. And this is the reality of the world without Christ. Because, though there is goodness in the world – because it is created by a good God, and we, because we are created in the image of God – it is fallen. And eventually the fallen-ness, the brokenness, the not-enough-ness can turn even the best of us into cynics.
But, that’s not the end of the story. That may be what there is, but that’s not all there is to come. Now I hope you’ll forgive me because I’m not being as theologically precise here as I like to be: But the story of Easter doesn’t end with Jesus on the cross. It doesn’t end – as amazing and marvelous as it is – with Jesus putting an end to sin. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus on the cross is the center. Jesus on the cross is our salvation. But Easter doesn’t end with Jesus on the cross – it ends with Jesus resurrected.
And, without going into detail, what Jesus on the cross means is that the things that are not right will be made right. The things that are broken will be made whole. The things that should not be, won’t; and the things that should be, will.
I spent many years working in the non-profit world. I spent several years working with high-risk teenagers – kids who were in the court system for the worst things. Occasionally, I thought about how, underneath that drug-addicted, violent, rejected and abused youth, there was a real person. The person who wasn’t broken by their parents, their environment, by society. The person who was supposed to be. And I spent many years working with people with developmental disabilities. And occasionally, I would think about how behind those physical and intellectual disabilities, there was a person who was loving, funny, creative, driven, and just wanted to belong. The person who was supposed to be.
The resurrection means that, through Jesus’ blood and because of the cross, that those people will be who they were supposed to be. And it means that you and I – in all of our sinfulness, all of our brokenness, all of our insecurities and anxieties, all of our pride and feat – we will be who we were meant to be. The fallen will be lifted up and we will reign beside Christ as stewards of His renewed creation. Relationships will be full, work will be a joy, and worship will be in everything we do. And we will see that all of the things that we love about this world, about this life – though they can bring joy and wonder, even now – they have only been shadows; they have only been pale reflections. In the resurrection, we will see what they were truly meant to be. We will see who we are truly meant to be. Because in the resurrection, we will see things by the true light, the source of all light, Jesus Christ.