24 April, 2014

The Resurrection's Significance: Why the World Wouldn't Be the Same Without It

These next couple of weeks, the youth pastor at The R.O.C.K. — a youth ministry that functions as part of Mount of Olives Church in Mission Viejo CA — my good friend, Jim Reynen — is doing a series on the resurrection's significance. Tonight in particular, he asked us all a very important question: "Is the resurrection of Jesus still impacting this world 2,014 years later? If so, how?" To which everyone had trouble answering but me, of course.

See, the first Apostles all suffered martyr's deaths for knowing and seeing that Jesus rose from the dead, we all know that. They also would never recant, even when faced with death, which of course is another validating factor in proving that the resurrection actually happened. And, most importantly, before knowing that Jesus was alive again and in their midst during Jesus' last 40 days on this planet, the people who would write all Jesus' words down in the form of the Gospel accounts were hiding in an upper room, fearful of the Romans. "We're next!" they all thought, until again, Jesus came into their midst having conquered death.

Of course, we all know Jesus' teaching still influences everything that goes on. John Ortberg wrote a book, Who Is This Man?, that showcases all the ways it continues to influence even secular levels of society, from caring for the sick (frowned upon by all forms of society until Jesus came) which resulted in the existence of the first hospital-like buildings, to helping out the poor ("it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven"), which formed the backbone of some of the largest nonprofit charities in the world (oh, yeah, and was also cited by socialists... more on THAT later), to the first steps on the path that led to democracy ("Render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's"), to the very idea of nonviolent, peaceful, pacifistic resistance represented in the very way Jesus handled the Roman and Jewish mockers who crucified Him — silently — which went on to inspire people like MLK and Mahatma Gandhi to act the same in the face of injustice. Yeah, and the senior pastor of course did a full series on this. Remember, however, that Jesus Himself only had a mouth to speak these words, certainly never a pen to write them down.

That pen was in the disciples' hands, and remember, until Jesus showed them He was really alive and conquered death, they were cowards. Hiding in that room, they were fearful the Romans, who crucified Jesus, would go on to kill all of them in similarly gruesome manners. So, without the resurrection, without the end of the story with Jesus having the victory He really did (and still does) over death, these people would still be in hiding, perhaps to the point of being found and caught early on, and the entire faith these people helped to found would have never even picked up steam in the first place. Heck, without the resurrection, none of us 2000+ years later would even know Jesus really existed, which means, yeah, no democracies, no hospitals, no generosity (or, by extension, socialism), and no nonviolent resistance... you might as well have the entire world be the same autocratic place it was in ancient times, magnified.

So, yeah, let's remember that the next time someone tries to doubt the resurrection: I along with all fellow believers sure know that the world wouldn't be the same without that final bit of the story. I suggest people pick up a copy of Ortberg's book and start reading it, because it may surprise you just how much Jesus has truly influenced every part of both our worshipping AND secular lives.