Thursday, April 09, 2009

If the Cross Were the End of the Story

My best friend from college, Kipp Wilson, has been mentally chewing on the essentiality of resurrection. He writes:
"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins," (1 Cor. 15:17).

I've been chewing and chewing that one over. I am ashamed to say this, but I was taught, and mostly live and believe in, a theology that could accommodate a tomb with Jesus' body still inside. I can easily see, with a few major but not paradigm-shifting tweaks how the message we preach could still be preached if Christ were not risen. If the cross were the end of the story. And yet...there's Paul's statement above. Do we really, honestly believe that? Do we? Think about the implications!

If Christ is not risen, the birth of Christ is irrelevant.
If Christ is not risen, the example of Christ is meaningless.
If Christ is not risen, the teachings of Christ are foolish.

If Christ is not risen, the cross of Christ is pointless.

Think about what Paul goes on to say next, in verse 19. "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." He was speaking in a multi-religious context, not in an atheist one. If Christ is not risen, if there is no resurrection, then ANY other religion is better than Christianity. Why? Because every other religion is based on rules, and rules work without a risen Christ. But we preach grace, and grace cannot exist without an empty tomb.

If Christ is not risen, we should all convert to Islam or Buddhism or Rastafarianism. If Christ is not risen, we should throw away every Bible, close every church, give back every tithe, and apologize daily for leading people so astray.

"But," Paul says...

Yeah, I know. You know what verse I'm going to cite next. I know it's obvious and predictable and the fact that I'm typing this with my eyes misting up means I'm a helpless theological romantic. Tough. I'm going to say it anyway.


Believe it. Preach it. Treasure it. Live it.