Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter Saved My Life

Greetings, all. The busy spring continues, but here I am. I owe Chrissie and Teach a response on the "Thinking Blogger Award", and I will get to it in the coming week. Let's hope, any way.

Also, I have been taken with the sadness of Britain's coming to grips with the behavior of its sailors while in Iranian hands. I will endeavor to have more to say on this next week, as well, but for now I will just say this: Our Islamist enemies love death, and an enemy that loves death has an inherent weakness against a foe that wants to live, since victory is defined in the here and now. And the object of war is to live through it.

But when people love this life so much that they don't care about the next ... then such people are vulnerable in this life to those who love death.

At Easter, I am reminded: One must conquer death to truly live.

Easter is the greatest conclusion to the greatest story ever told. But that's about it for a lot of people. It's a great ending to a great story.

But it's more to me. You see, Easter saved my life.

Whenever I venture directly into matters of faith, I feel the need to send up a flare to remind you again that, though I am most committed to what I am about to say, our friendship is not dependent upon your agreement with me. What is a true friend, any way? Sounds like a Pontius Pilate moment.

But seriously, I tell you these things from time to time for the same reason that I would tell any one that I cared about, well, anything.

Indeed, your life may depend on it, as mine did.

When I left for college in 1982, I had the world by the tail. I knew almost all of it, and for that I didn't know, I had the tools to figure it out. My newly-minted Christian faith had a self-righteous and self-assured gleam. (It still shines from time to time, I've been told.)

Well, it seems that some of my professors didn't quite share my appreciation for Christianity. They openly challenged all that I believed. They got to me. I struggled to come to grips with some of their questions, in particular, the intractible question of human suffering. One history professor wondered out loud: "If God is a loving God and in charge of the universe, how could He let 6 million his chosen people die at the hands of a madman?" Good question, I thought then. In fact, I still haven't come up with a good answer.

Others were so skeptical that they caused me to wonder if I could know much of anything. Why not just "bag it" and try wild college girls and the good stuff that this world offered instead? It would have been a lot easier and more fun.

But instead of wild college girls, I wrestled with many questions that I couldn't answer ... like predestination. Oh, man. As I ascended the staircase in my mind, eventually I got to the top. But the questions ... and the understanding of the answers to those questions kept going up, and up ... well-above my mind's staircase.

I wasn't God, and there were things that ultimately I could not know for certain in this life.

But during that fretful, difficult but pivotal year when I was deciding what type of man I would be ... I kept coming back to those things that I could know, at least as well as a human being can know such things.

I came back to the resurrection of Christ. Paul, whose old life as Saul was shattered and whose new life began when he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, wrote in I Corinthians 15:14 that, if the resurrection were not true, then his faith would be "in vain".

Wow. Paul, the great rabbi who wrote more than half of the New Testament, staked the whole faith on the resurrection. It seemed pretty straigthtforward to me. What I really wanted to know was rather what I believed was true. Was Christ really "the Way, the Truth, and the Life?" If he rose from the dead, then He was and He is.

All my other questions were really on the periphery, because if I answered the one question I needed to answer, well, then I could deal with my uncertainties. Mind you, I am not dismissing curiosity or getting answers to serious questions. All I am saying is that answering foundational questions, or rather the foundational question, puts the others in perspective.

I mean, if you knew God was flying plane you were on, would you worry about the intracies of the engine?

So, I studied the resurrection. How much? Well, lots have studied it more. But let me put it this way: I've studied it more than any one I've met who doesn't believe in the resurrection of Christ.

The more you look at truth, the better it looks.

Where is the body, any way? That's a good starting point. I won't bore you with the details. If you are interested, it's all over the internet. The body of Christ is not, of course. You understand what I am saying.

I concluded that Jesus rose from the dead ... actually, physically rose from the dead. If He was and is God in human flesh, this could be done, after all. And if the resurrection is true, then many things are possible. Death loses its sting, and life has meaning ... every minute of every day.

Believing this, 11 most ordinary and unarmed men turned upside down and conquered the world. In fact, they even went back to the scene of Christ's crucifixion to begin their proclamation of the resurrection.

Eventually, all but one of them would die as martyrs. Only the "disciple that Jesus loved" would not die as a martyr. He was left behind with work to do, you see. In exile, John wrote the Book of Revelation.

Many proofs of the resurrection there are.

But one proof that means so much to me is that ... the truth of Easter saved my life.

See you next week.