Friday, March 04, 2016

The resurrection answers death

How does the resurrection help with the prospect of death? 
An ultimate reality for every one of us, and a present reality, whether close at hand for us, or for those we love. I’m aware there are a couple of big issues in 1 Corinthians 15: 21.
Firstly, Adam, portrayed as a real + influential on your life.
Secondly, there’s Jesus, resurrected from the dead.
Paul asserts that there was an Adam who took the world down to death. The idea of “Original Sin.” What can we say here?

[With thanks to Glen Scrivener for his 321 TWO material] You might ask if it’s true – that’s a good question. Let me ask back, if not this, what is your origin story, how do you explain this broken world? Can your way of doing it account for your experience of life? You might ask if it’s fair – the sin of this Adam leading the world into death. If it even happened, we ask, how and why should the sin of Adam affect me??

In 1269, Johes de la Bysse fled from France to the Sussex coast. His decision means there are Bish’s in Britain… he shaped my history, my appearance, even 747 years later, my very existence…

While I love to think of myself as a self-made man, very little about me is down to my decisions. Though not denying our individuality, the Bible prefers to look at humanity as a family. More alike, related, than apart. Chips off the old block. Sinning, stuffing up, of our own accord and from the family likeness. Heading towards the sting of the great enemy death.

Look more closely, and we see that Paul writes in v22 about being IN ADAM or being IN CHRIST. About a fundamental connectedness – v23, of belonging.

[With thanks to Rory Shiner's idea in his book One Forever] Picture an aeroplane. If you want to get where the plane is going it is no good to watch the plane and be inspired, nor to sit yourself under it, no you have to be in it. Your destination depends on what you’re in, to whom you belong. So too, Paul says:
If you belong to Adam you go where Adam goes – to death.
If you belong to Christ – you go where Christ goes, to resurrection from the dead. If you're in him, what happens to him happens to you. The seed dies and bears much fruit. The firstfruits followed by the whole crop.
Where we think of ourselves as six billion+ self-defining people, Paul says two men define the world. You can disagree with that, but he’d say – it’s happening. Death reigns and we can’t beat it. Can you relate? The Christian faith dares to say, ‘of course you can, we’re related…’

Jesus, dead then raised. Resurrection is unusual. And it has been the message of the Christian Church for 2000 years. So look at the Christian faith – often poorly represented by people like me –fundamentally a faith of love, weakness, service, inclusion… not the stuff of conspiracy and power play…
Either the church exists as the result of a deception, con or lie. Which is just bizarre.
Or, could it be that the resurrection of Jesus caused belief in the resurrection of Jesus? Did people believe it happened because it happened?
I wonder what you make of those two things? You might have lots of questions, which is totally fine.


‘By one man, death. By the other man, resurrection from the dead.’

In v19, Paul admits that if there is no resurrection, if there is hope only for this life then the followers of Jesus are pitiful. People with their hearts deceived. Failing to juice life for all its worth. Deluded and deluding others.

 The IF is worthy of serious consideration. There is much room to explore and consider and question here. But Paul is bold too. He’s done his work. He’s experienced this Living Jesus. And in – v20 – “but in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.” He dares say there is more than just “this life.” But what?

Look at Adam and Christ. These were people. With bodies with all the ordinarily bodily functions of bodies. Born. Lived. Died. And the resurrected Jesus ate breakfast with his friends.

Then see that Jesus is described – v20 – as the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. That sounds like a euphemism for death, but if those who belong to Christ are on the plane, they go where he goes, their death is far more of a falling asleep and awaking. We think of death more strongly, for lack of evidence to the contrary, but if Jesus is raised then…
As I think of my Gran, in her eighties, as one who belongs to Christ, as her body fades away she is not reduced to a dash between the dates she was born and one day dies. Her story is not almost over. She is heading towards the evening of this life, likely to fall asleep in the not too distant future, and then to awaken when Jesus returns, resurrected with Jesus, resurrected like Jesus, her body restored, freshly alive with all the vigour and strength of her life restored to that she knew from her wartime evacuation as a child to even the recent years of her early eighties tending her garden. I am comforted by this as I see her fade. I’m lifted by this. She will have been comforted by this, though perhaps wouldn’t be able really to articulate much of that now. If Jesus isn’t risen, then considering my Gran in that way, and indeed myself, surely makes me pitiful – deluded – foolish. 
The Biblical storyline takes death seriously. No pretending it’s not there. No attempting to minimise the horror of death. An unbeatable foe. But one defeated by Jesus who first died and then was raised from death. As my Gran well knows, seeds die to bear much fruit, and the firstfruits of the harvest are an indicator of what's to come.

What do you make of that? How do you look at death? What story makes sense of how you feel about death? Where is your comfort?

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