In yesterday’s post, I shared why I believe the resurrection happened. But I also want to explain why I believe the resurrection makes a difference–in the world and in my life.
Christians believe that the resurrection proves that Jesus was who he said he was–the Christ, the King, the Son of God–sent to save (heal, redeem, restore) the world from sin (brokenness, disobedience to God, fallenness). And that on the cross, Jesus took the separation from God that all of us deserved so that we wouldn’t have to do so. God then honored Jesus’ sacrifice by raising him from the dead and demonstrating that love triumphs over sin, that life conquers death.
From there, the resurrected Jesus tells his followers that they can have new life “in him.” They can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, become a part of his resurrected body and participate in his ongoing work of changing the world for the good. So the resurrection matters as a proof of Jesus’ identity, but it also matters as a means of power for real transformation.
Plenty of terrible things have been (and are) done in the name of Jesus. But the history of the church also contains the history of incredible good in the world. For instance, infanticide was practiced by many people in Jesus’ time. The Christian value on every human life–even the weakest–helped put a stop to this practice. When the plagues swept through the Roman Empire, family members often fled, leaving other family members to die. Christians, including those who weren’t related to the ones with the plague, stayed in the cities to care for the sick because they a) believed that they were called to do so out of love for Christ, but b) because they believed that there was life after death. If they died of the plague, so be it. They would live with God, by the power of the resurrection, forevermore. In recent years, the abolition of slavery–first in Great Britain but also in the US–was greatly influenced by Christian teaching (of course slaveholders also used the Bible to try to validate slavery, but the point remains that the Christian story of the transformative power of Christ’s resurrection has also impacted the world for good).
This isn’t to say that you can’t be moral or do good things other than by the power of God, just that Christians have been transformed by this belief in the resurrection and it has been used for great good. The writer of the hymn Amazing Grace was a slavetrader who met Jesus and repented of what he had done.
Finally, there’s the more intimate set of stories of individuals who claim to have had an encounter with the risen Christ and who claim that the resurrection has changed their lives personally. Starting with the disciples and Paul, and on through the centuries, people have gone from darkness to light, from sickness to health, from slavery to freedom in Christ. That’s where some of the personal narratives come in. That’s my experience, too. An experience of God’s ongoing power, of Jesus’ ongoing life, at work through my own life.