Doubt is a perennial problem for me. While I have friends and family for whom belief comes very easily, my walk toward and with God has often been over rough ground. My natural bent is toward reason and intellectual assent, so some days, Christianity feels like a stretch. Which made today’s sermon all the more important for me. Naturally, since today is Resurrection Sunday, the topic was Jesus’ resurrection, and our pastor said several very important things (VITs) today.
The first VIT is this: The fact of the Resurrection is not one of the more difficult hurdles in subscribing to Christianity. That’s extremely important for those of us hobbled by an intellectual bent. It’s pretty difficult to explain away the Resurrection, he noted, given its result in both the empire and in the individuals who were witnesses of and to it. I won’t belabor the evidence for the Resurrection; it’s fairly well documented in books and on the Web. In fact, our pastor noted a recent book by New York pastor Timothy Keller that sets forth some of the evidence for it.
Closely connected to the first VIT is this one: Evidence is seldom enough. Despite the astonishing fact of the Resurrection, it alone cannot convert. After all, the disciples weren’t exactly widely celebrated as heralds of God’s coming kingdom. In fact, those who would have known best–the Jewish leaders–worked hardest to silence the fledgling church. And though countless believers paid the ultimate price for belief, though countless people refused to recant, the world didn’t suddenly give itself over to God.
The final VIT I’ve been chewing on most of the afternoon, as our family shared a meal with another family connected to ours. Just before lunch, someone offered grace with the following salutation: “The Lord be with you.” The real wonder of Christianity is not that we anticipate some future spiritual perfection. The real wonder is that God has not given up on the physical world. In light of the Resurrection, God is remaking the world right now, as people for whom Christ died place their trust in him. The transformation of their lives overflows into the world around them through their relationships, dealing God’s grace and mercy and justice to the people with whom they come in contact. In that way, God is mending the world, restoring what the Fall destroyed.
With that final mending, we will see what we have longed for. Our lives are an endless exploration, and in the words of T. S. Eliot,
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
(from “Little Gidding”)