Resurrection Sunday: The Elephant in the Room

Resurrection Sunday is coming soon to a Sunday morning worship service near you, presented by the church.  We love the story of the resurrection of Jesus.  Now we can talk about new life…eternal life in Jesus.  As the great Gathier hymn goes, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow…  And life is worth the living, just because he lives.”  But here is a reality check…a wake up call, if you will.  There is no resurrection apart from the cross of Jesus Christ.  We only discover the resurrection of Christ in and through the cross of Christ and that is a path that can only be traveled by a deep submissive faith.

In Matthew 26:36-46 we encounter the story of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane.  There Jesus prays to his Heavenly Father on three different times and the conclusion is “Father… your will be done.”  Regardless of Jesus’ own petition for another possibility, he ultimately submits himself to his Father’s will — the cross.  After his third prayer, Jesus reveals his decisive submission to his Father’s will when he says to his disciples, “Rise!  Let us go…”  

Very soon Jesus was arrested…convicted…crucified.

Father… Your Will be Done!

I wonder if we really are willing to hear this story and embrace it’s trajectory as followers of Jesus.  This story tells us first that the answer to prayer is always “Father… your will be done.”  Yet do we even know what the will of God is?  It’s almost baseball season again and I love baseball.  Contrary to the views of some, I don’t get bothered that some players make multi-millions every year to play the game.  If I was in their shoes, I can’t say that I would turn down such an offer.  However, when the name of God is invoked to suggest that God somehow led these players to this decision, (see here and here), I get concerned.

Yet I know that this is only a symptom of a culture where God seems to lead us to greater prosperity, bigger and better opportunities, safer living and a more secure future.  That’s very different from the God of Abraham, Joseph, Moses and the Israelites, Daniel and his three friends, Jeremiah and Ezekiel along with many other prophets, and last but not least, Jesus and numerous Christian martyrs, missionaries, and preachers.  Get the picture?  The will of God never seems to make life easier, blessing a life of safety and self-sufficiency.

The will of God is that we will learn to live with a deep submissive trust in God’s promise, embracing the way of Jesus and the cross.  But not so in some churches, so it seems.  Safety is too precious.  We can’t fathom that God might want us to remain exposed to a world full of darkness, trusting in him to bring about his redemptive will through endangerment, insecurity, and vulnerability.  Thus, after the state of Arkansas passes a law allowing guns to be carried into church services and other places of worship, an elder of one church invokes the concern for the safety of church goers as his reason for supporting the law in this Christian Chronicle article (see here).  Let me be clear…  Neither I nor anyone I know wants to be gunned down by a deranged person but can we not trust God like Jesus did when the crowd came to arrest and kill him?  What happens when the deranged person entering the church with a gun is a religious or political fanatic coming to harm us because we are Christians?  Could we even fathom that it might be God’s will to allow such evil to happen so that his light may shine though the darkness, in which our aversion to such a scenario impedes the will of God?

The Story of Jesus, The Will of God

I love the story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.  I believe in Jesus and place my hope in his death, burial, and resurrection.  But this isn’t just a story to be told, it’s a story to be lived.  I don’t know what that entails for the way it plays out in anyone’s life, much less my own.  What I do know is that the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection will never truly become our story as long as we seek a life that avoids the danger, hardship, risk, and vulnerability that comes with following Jesus.  We arrive in the resurrection of Jesus Christ by traveling with him to the cross.  Any subversion or attempted spiritualization of the cross as we celebrate the resurrection is to do so while ignoring the elephant in the room, so to speak.  Thus we must learn to pray “Father… your will be done!”

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One response to “Resurrection Sunday: The Elephant in the Room

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