Our problem is death. I know that sounds melodramatic, or at least very serious for a Friday Morning, but let me explain.
Death not only happens to everyone, but everything.
We recognize it as an immutable fact of life, the ultimate result of every living thing. We see this decay not only in people, animals, and plants, but in everything.
“All good things must come to an end.”
“Nothing lasts forever.”
All success is tainted with the foreboding that it won’t last. All solutions we offer feel at best temporary, because Death can only be delayed, not conquered.
Everyone’s got a solution to offer.
In a culture like ours, there is a lot of choice and opportunity. Our culture is rich with options and institutions of power and many see these institutions as the answer to our problems.
Politics: Can it restrain the fallen nature of man? Can it pave the way for freedom? Can it given women more choice and equality, or save more babies from abortions? Can it protect marriage, or save the family? Maybe. Many people hope so.
Art/pop culture: Can it save us from boredom, from apathy, from barbarism? Can it enlighten us and remind us of our soul, bring about social change and make us better people? Maybe, Many people sure hope so.
Education: Can it eradicate poverty and crime? Can it make us smarter, and wiser? Can it erase inequality? Probably not, but many people hope so.
The Church: Can it make people righteous? Can it eradicate racism and segregation? Can it bring unity into our diversity? Can it make us better people? As a lifelong pastor, may I say, likely not…but many sure hope so.
The problem is not that these institutions of power are illusory, or that they serve no place in our culture. It may even be that some of the goals and dreams for them are entirely within scope and valid. The problem is that for each of them the solutions offered do not solve the problem of death. Furthermore they all suffer from the problem. That is, they all suffer from their own deadness. You can even see how and when cultures and these institutions begin to reflect more of death than life: How politics tends towards restriction and death, rather than freedom and life, how pop culture can begin to celebrate dead (or undead) and dark, how education can begin to suppress innovation and ideas. This tendency toward death in all things is the tension we fight against. Sometimes, in some cultures; many times in our own culture, life seems to break through. Our constitution, great moments of artistic revival, Leaps in understanding and technology, and revivals of service and sincerity in the church. All these things happen from time to time, but death returns.
Is there a solution then?
I believe there is. The only solution to death is life and I believe the God of Life has found a way to bring life to dead people; a way to turn back the curse of the zombie apocalypse. Paul of scripture says we are all walking dead, animate but dead.
Today is the day Christians sometimes call “Good Friday.” It’s a weird sort of name for the remembrance of the day that our founder died. And yet for us, it is good. It is good because we believe this is the day that the God of the universe, the transcendent, almighty God did the impossible. He submitted himself to human flesh not merely to die, but through his death (and of course the resurrection we celebrate on Easter) to conquer death for all of us. The inevitability of death in a fallen world is not the deepest magic, or most profound truth of the universe. It is only a phase the world is going through. A phase of corruption and decay, which Christ’s death has overturned. The redemption, not only of men, but of all the universe is still to come, and it is the Cross, the death of Christ, and the empty tomb, the resurrection of Christ which completed the redemption yet to be revealed in proper time.
I want my unbelieving friends to know this
I want you to know, not because I want you to be moral, or controlled, or go to church but because I want you to know life. To taste life and experience life. I want you to know the Life of Christ, both now and forever. And if you don’t want life, I at least want you to know that that’s what Christians are trying to offer you in our own clumsy, sometimes desperate, confused way. We are sometimes terrible ambassadors, sometimes stupid communicators, but that’s really all we want…to suggest that life is better than death and life is only a gift, never something earned, but something freely given by the Grace of God through Jesus at the Cross.
I want my believing friends to know this
I want you to remember that among all the good things we champion, and all the important things we do, that none of them are as important as the pursuit of Life in Christ. That our live is hidden and we must continue to find it in the place it is hidden…in our Messiah and God, Jesus. I want you to remember that no power rivals the power of the one who created all things and through whom all things are held together. I want you to flourish, excel and act in all the ways and institutions to which God has called you, whether it be politics, or education, or art, or marketplace, or anywhere and everywhere. But I also want you to remember that it is the life of Christ that you bring to these things that truly matters more than these things themselves.
God says He’s smart enough to put all of us in the puzzle where we belong, where we fit. He asks us to stop resisting His placement, but trust that it will be both most joyous for us and most effective for bringing His will for His kingdom even to this earth in the form of glimpses, and tastes of life. As we flow in this role we are a sweet aroma to those around us. Anyway, at this stage of my life, my piece is too preach this message of life as far as I can to both believers and unbelievers. Most of all, to remind churches of the value of life and their place in presenting it. To encourage Christians and non Christians alike to pursue life in Christ. Perhaps you play a part in this too. Check out this post if you’d like to know ways you can help.
I posted a quote from Cal Thomas on the Pastormac page two days ago and I asked for responses. (My brother’s is here on his blog.) I don’t agree with everything Cal said, but I find it very interesting any time someone changes a major paradigm, and that is precisely what Cal Thomas is telling us (actually has been for a few years now in many interviews.) Cal Thomas was part of an organization in the 80’s , the moral majority, which believes that political action w
ould be the key to a changed and living culture. He’s now concluded that only Christ can change lives and culture. In that respect, as someone who’s recognized that the solution he previously trumpeted (as a believer and member of the church) was not the solution we desperately need, I found it interesting. I also found it leading to the blog you just read above. You can find the quote on my Facebook page if you are interested.
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