Here is another thought I am developing. Once again, I invite your feedback to help me develop it.
(The other thing to say about these developing thoughts is that I am not claiming to be the first to think of them, or that they’re even very profound for anyone but myself. On the other hand, I encourage you to see, at least, that I am seeking a thorough understanding of these ideas, and not to grasp them simply as facts that might be taught in a religion class).
At times when my faith is challenged, when I have to acknowledge that I have an almost infantile view of many points of theology, and philosophy at large, the vessel of my mind begins to drift away from the harbor. What if I’ve come to dock at the wrong port? (If you feel silly reading this figures of analogy, know that I feel silly writing them. But coming up is a valuable point, I think).
There is, after all, the whole ocean out there. If this is the wrong port, I have a lot of searching to do over an unbelievably vast space. I begin to wonder how I got here, now drifting toward the open sea, toward the allure of adventure and the threat of peril. Fortunately, there has always been a sharp tug after a certain distance, not too far out but not so close, either. I’m anchored by two tenets of my faith.
The first, which I won’t dwell on now, are the powerful experiences of God’s presence I have known. It will suffice to say that if I were to deny these in favor of the search for another port, I would be rejecting myself, my fundamental self.
The second, the idea I’m developing, is the fact that a man said he would rise from the dead, and he did.
Now, there are several possible responses to this, the most obvious being, “I don’t believe he did rise from the dead.” And some explanation may or may not follow. This objection deserves a complete response, one I am not equipped to offer at the moment.
But if you do believe this, that a man rose from the dead, or at least you are open to the possibility, then you should feel your anchor tugging when you drift a little, too.
(At this point, if you haven’t, I would like you to step outside of religion class and into the realm of your pure mind and spirit.)
This is unbelievable! Everyone else dies and stays dead! There are laws of nature which everything obeys. It would have been something to see Christ defy the law of gravity (which He appears to have done in His Ascension), but if He did so and still died, and stayed dead, we might only remark that it was an amazing thing to do. And very soon we might even forget it, or doubt it.
What more amazing thing could He have done? Conquer the world by military power? Cause planets to collide within plain view of ours? Make a square a circle?
The answer is, essentially, nothing. Death is fundamental, a law that no one breaks. And not for lack of trying.
Jesus told us He would die then rise again. Then He died. Then He rose again.
Ah, I’ve thought of something more amazing. More amazing – I might say stupefying, but I don’t mean to compromise my sense of charity, particularly when I need it from so many others – is the person who accepts that Jesus rose from the dead, then does not reflect on how this should influence his or her life.
You have to, right? To cheapen the point a little for relevance, this is akin to seeing a headline, “Man rises from the dead!” and not at all being curious about how it happened, why it happened, and whether it could also happen for you. No such news is reported in any other harbor.