Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Hope of the Resurrection

I received two e-mails recently that I've thought a lot about today.  One, forwarded from a friend, was a reminder of the beginning of the 100 Days of Remembrance to mark the 15th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda.  In 1994, almost one million Rwandans were killed by their fellow countrymen in about 100 days.  I spent a little time reading more about that wicked and tragic event.  I can't get my mind around it.

The other e-mail I received was from my Mom, who serves as a missionary in Zimbabwe.  That country has been experiencing terrible economic and political turmoil.  Food is scarce, disease is running rampant, and a dictator holds a stranglehold on the country.  My Mom e-mailed to tell me about the Easter program her church did about the last days of Christ's life.  She said the favorite part of her program was the colorfulness of it-- Jesus and his disciples were black while Jesus' mother Mary and Mary Magdalene were white.  Knowing that country's history, it is an encouraging testament to the healing Christ can bring.  

While thinking about all these things, I listened today to the audio of a dialogue between N. T. Wright and Bart Ehrman on The Problem of Evil.  (I really recommend listening to the whole discussion.  Both men are intelligent, articulate, and passionate about their beliefs.)  Bart Ehrman is a former evangelical who gave up on his faith in light of the horrendous suffering in the world.  N. T. Wright spoke on evil from his Christian perspective. Ehrman cannot accept a God who would allow such terrible suffering in the world.   He has come to the conclusion that this life is all there is, so you better live it and enjoy it as best you can.  Bishop Wright said many insightful things about the problem of evil, but towards the end, he boiled it down to what is, quite literally, the crux of the issue.  He said (and I'm roughly paraphrasing) that were it not for the resurrection, he would be in the same boat as Ehrman.  

In other words, without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, this life means nothing.  We have no hope.  There is no point. Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men" (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

And so this is my reflection on the resurrection this Easter-- without it, we're screwed.  

Jesus' resurrection is central to all of human history.  It is our only hope of being saved, not only as individuals, but as a world.  It is the promise that God will restore and renew this world some day.  It is not a vague, sentimental hope of  "Yippee, God forgave all my bad stuff so I can fly off to heaven."  It is God reconciling us to Himself and redeeming creation for His glory.  All the genocides, the wars, the famines, the dictators-- all the evil in the world we see and can't adequately explain or understand-- we look from that straight to the cross.  The place where God chose suffering. The place where God demonstrated His love. The place God vowed that He would restore all that was lost.  Look to the cross and to the resurrection.  It's our only hope.

If you would like to donate food and help alleviate some of the suffering in Zimbabwe, click here.

And here's an easy way to help coffee farmers in Rwanda while promoting reconciliation.

No comments: