Why the Resurrection Matters

The Bible is not a script for a funeral service, but it is the record of God always bringing life where we expected to find death. Everywhere it is the story of resurrection.

–Eugene Peterson

Resurrection IconThe Resurrection is the essential truth of Christianity. The apostle Paul wrote that if we can only hope for this life–in other words, if Christ’s resurrection and the bodily resurrection he promises are false–then we are the most pitiable beings ever (1 Corinthians 15:19). Surprisingly, the nineteenth-century nihilist Friedrich Neitzsche agrees with the apostle. For him, in the absence of a resurrected Christ, power alone matters. I mentioned my pastor’s comment last week: “The apostle Paul and Friedrich Neitzsche agree: If the Resurrection is true, it changes everything.”

Because they do not believe, the folks in Neitzche’s camp live the pitiful life Paul describes. Without the Resurrection, this world and human lives do not really matter at all. All our futile efforts to improve or preserve the world and its people verge on the ridiculous.

Those who do believe face no less a challenge. While Paul’s writing on this subject is riddled with hope, it is not a helpful fiction designed to produce comfort. If we believe the Resurrection is true, he writes, then what we say, what we do, even how we think should be transformed. Our belief in the risen Christ must penetrate every aspect of our lives. In essence, our core value should change from “Eat and drink for tomorrow we die” to “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).

If this is true, why do so many who don’t believe in the Resurrection live as if they do, while those who do have hope live as if they will never rise? What I mean is, our nation and the world are full of activists, people who believe so deeply in human beings that they make great sacrifices to help others and improve the world. At the same time, Christians everywhere live in what Paul calls a “drunken stupor,” living the good life and ignoring the pain and suffering around them (1 Cor. 15:34). Why is this?

My immediate response to this question is shame, since I know my values have flipped at times. It’s easy for me to slip into this kind of thinking, to think more about my own wants than the needs of others. I find it equally easy at times to get caught up in my consumerist culture. All of which makes me afraid to ask the question “Does the Resurrection ‘show up’ in my life?” How has my faith changed how I live? Put more practically, if I believe, can American Idol really matter? Can the latest fashion, or magazine ads, or indeed most popular culture matter?

I’m spending Holy Week meditating on two questions, and I’m interested in your thoughts on them as well, Fearless Reader. First, if the above things do not matter, what does matter? And second, how should I demonstrate my belief in the Resurrection in my daily life?

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6 thoughts on “Why the Resurrection Matters”

  1. Jamie,
    Hey bro! Thanks for giving me the blog site. I have enjoyed reading through it the last two days. I am, however, having problems today. It could just be my computer, but the list on the right side of the page that shows the books you are reading, have read, and are planning to read is covering up some of your posting. Sorry to bother you if this is my computer’s issue. Hope you have a great week reflecting on what gives us hope to be steadfast!

    Shane

  2. Jamie, this is an extraordinary blog entry and the icon is just the icing on the cake. Chesterton gave a succint rebut to Nietzsche also in “Orthodoxy.”

    Nietzsche was a lot of things, but certainly not boring…. LOL

    You should call your blog “THUS SPAKE JAMIE CAIN.” LOL

  3. Jamie, in short, if the above things do not matter, then nothing matters. Nietzsche illustrated this incredibly well in his Parable of the Madman. See the following link:

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/nietzsche-madman.html

    As an aside, this parable shows how poetry is better than philosophy when beutifully written. Self-aggrandizement is all that is left (if that even has meaning) without God, even if thinly veiled with some Ayn Rand mumbo-jumbo about selfish altruism.

    Since the resurrection is true,as you have said, every aspect of our lives is affected. Given Charles’ sermon this past Sunday on the truth of the bodily resurrection, I believe we need to recover the material aspect of obedience to God’s law without being legalistic. I mean this as a correction to a far too spiritualized idea of obedience. I have heard that Luther stated that a mother changing a diaper is as glorious to God as preaching the gospel, though I have never found a source.

    Further, our obedience does work its way out in what we normally consider mundane, everyday life. I believe it evideces itself in questioning assumptions, which are for the most part worldly. We need to push the antithesis between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the Serpent.

    Here is a practical example. What is the end of an education? Well, most (even Christians) think it is to get good grades, make it to a respected university, take one’s place in the work-a-day world, and buy the right material possessions in order to be happy or successful. I am sure I have succumbed to this temptation to a great degree, to my shame. However, a biblical end of education is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This will evidence itself with a love of His law (Psalm 19).

    I am probably not being clear and running on far too much. Put it this way, it would be much better to have a thorough knowledge of God’s word, love it and be a plumber than to be a professional with great things and a successful white collar job. As Chris Strevel has said, our test of a successful education is covenant faithfulness.

  4. Before Greg reads this… he being a spelling bee champ and all, I misspelled beautiful.

    Here is something from Rushdoony, the theonomist:

    According to James, “[F]aith without works is dead” (James 2:26). The necessary relationship between faith and works is stressed by St. Paul (Rom. 3:31) and very strongly by the Lord (Matt. 7:16–29). As the Lord says, a good tree brings forth good fruit, and a bad tree bad fruit. There is a consistency between faith and life.

    This, very simply, means that the Lord makes a great difference in a person’s life. We cannot excuse someone’s evil ways by saying that whatever his actions may be, his heart is still right with the Lord. To do so is grossly insulting to God; it implies that the regenerating power of His grace is impotent to change a person.

    When an earthquake hits, it makes a difference. When a tornado hits, you can see the force of its movement. An earthquake and a tornado have little power compared to the regenerating grace of the Almighty.

    There are too many church people who claim to be saved and yet are no different from those around them who are without Christ. Is it any wonder some churches are powerless?

    The living church, the church filled with regenerate individuals, has always been a mover and shaker on earth. God sends us people who can change the church and the world by His power.

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