Thursday, April 28, 2011

Living the Resurrection

Eugene Peterson begins his book Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life by recounting Billy Sunday's ideal Christian life: "Hit the sawdust trail, fall on your knees, and receive Christ as Savior. Then walk out of this tent into the street, get hit by a Mack truck, and go straight to heaven." Peterson notes the appealing nature of the old-time evangelist's formula. "No time to backslide, no temptations to bother with, no doubts to wrestle with, no spouse to have to honor no kids to put up with, no enemies to love, no more sorrow, no more tears. Instant eternity."

Of course, just because something is appealing doesn't mean it's advisable. And if we believe the testimony of the scriptures, even profitable. Sunday's philosophy certainly doesn't seem to be par for the course when it comes to God's will for most of our lives. God could have, at the resurrection, ended it all, I suppose. He could have in that great act brought history to a close and carried his people away to an eternity with him.  But God seemed to have other purposes with this post-resurrection world, purposes that involved more than whisking away his people to the sweet-by-and-by.

When we read the testimony of the book of Acts and the letters of Paul, God seems to be intent upon getting the sweet-by-and-by inserted into the lives of his people in the hear-and-now. After all, didn't Jesus teach us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven"? That seems a far cry from Billy Sunday's ideal Christian life. As believers we are confident that Mack trucks can't separate us from the God's presence. If and when we die we will be with God.  But we are equally confident that neither can the ordinary stuff of life separate us from his presence. We can, through the power of God's Spirit, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, experience eternal life today in the carpool and at the grocery store, in the staff meeting and while having supper with the in-laws.  Thanks to the resurrection life at work in us, we need not wait for our deaths to experience eternity's fruit.

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