When I look at the Christian faith from a strictly historical context it is hard for me to understand how people deny that Christ ever lived and then died upon the cross. The historical evidence for this truth is overwhelming and comes from both Christian and non-Christian sources. I’m always surprised when I hear someone say they don’t believe in Christ as the Savior because they simply don’t believe that he ever lived. The evidence that he did is overwhelming, so what holds them back? Is it just that they have never been educated in world history, that they have never dug deep enough, or that they just choose to believe in the history that backs their own beliefs? I don’t have the answer to that but I have to agree with Lee Strobel who said that it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a follower of Christ.
Chapter 21: The Main Event
In our modern world we are blessed by technology. We have the ability to monitor everything- there are cameras in stores, on the roads, at our homes, and even in our own hands. We have apps that allow us to watch our children at daycare while we sit in our offices at work. We have webcams that can connect us to someone on the other side of the world so that we can see someone who is 1000s of miles away from us as clearly as we can see someone sitting right beside us. Our technology gives us a way to take away doubt and to give us peace of mind.
Imagine if our technology existed when Christ was crucified and rose from the dead; there wouldn’t be questions regarding the truth of his follower’s claims. There would have been multiple cameras pointed at the cross and then at his tomb watching and waiting to see what would happen. I imagine the world would be even more tuned in to the camera feed than they are to April the giraffe who has been “on the verge” of giving birth for a month now! To see the truth we could simply rewind and review the data to see what happened and when. Maybe the world would be a little different if we had this ability. But we don’t and so we have to rely upon the faith that has been passed down through the centuries and which God stirs within our hearts to know the truth. The further we get from the actual events the more time people have to pervert our faith and to pull people from Christ.
As I have progressed in my theological studies one of the papers I had to research and write was regarding faith in the resurrection. While historians all back up the claim that Jesus actually lived, preached, and died upon a cross, the “fact” of whether or not he actually rose from the dead is disputed. There is no doubt that his body was gone from the tomb, but the dispute comes with where it went and if he rose or one of his followers actually moved it. This cannot be proven. This is where faith starts.
One of the most compelling arguments for the resurrection lies within the actions of Christ’s followers after his resurrection. Each of his followers was willing to not only be persecuted or ridiculed for their belief in the risen Lord, but they were also ready to die for this belief. They had nothing to gain from this belief and yet had everything to lose. With Christ no longer there, why did they continue to insist that this was the truth? It would have been easy to slip into obscurity and allow Christ’s life and message to pass with him. And yet, they didn’t. They were willing to stand firm in their claim that Christ had risen and that he was truly the Messiah. They risked everything when they didn’t need to. Why?
Because it was true.
Christ calls us to this type of self-sacrificing faith in him. He calls us to believe and proclaim the truth even when we face persecution. It’s easier for us to do this when we are surrounded with others who believe and we have a 2000 year history of people fighting for our faith and for Christ’s truth. But what if you were one of those first followers? Would it have been so easy? Could you have stood in front of those who ridiculed you and wanted to kill you over your faith and still proclaim that Christ was truly God?
Each day God asks us to do this. We may not be worried that we will be martyred for our faith, but we can be outcasted by our friends, our family, and our communities for following Christ in faith. It may not be the same as the early Christians or even perhaps some of our brothers and sisters in other countries who face martyrdom even today, but it can still be difficult to purposefully follow Christ wherever he leads us in our faith.
Point to Ponder: God wants to resurrect you in some way.
God has been so merciful with me, resurrecting me in many ways. There have been times in my life where my faith has suffered because of life circumstances. My human mind and heart could not understand why certain things were happening and so darkness surrounded me and I felt alone. I questioned God’s intention and his existence. It would be in these times that he would resurrect me… he would bring me out of the tomb of despair and into his light once again, reassuring me that he had never left me and that he had plans for hope and goodness in my life.
Right now we are going through something very difficult. There is someone in our lives who has wielded a lot of control over one of our kids and tries to do this with our entire family. For a long time I allowed her to crush my heart. I allowed her to make me miserable. But I won’t allow that anymore. I remember posting on my Facebook one day a link to Rachel Platten’s song “Fight Song.” I had woken up that morning with God telling me that I needed to trust in him and that he had our situation in hand. The words to this song just resonated with me…
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.
He reminds me each day that I need to trust him and to allow him to help me fight through the things that want to tear me down. My power is in God. He makes me strong. I don’t care if anyone else believes because God is in me and will fight for me and with me every step of the way.
Verse to Live: “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth… He is risen! He is not here.” Mark 16:6
Do I believe that Christ is risen? Absolutely! And while I know he is risen, I also know we must continue to seek him in everything we do. We may never face dying for our faith as the early Christians did, but God does ask us to die to ourselves and to live for him, seeking him in the faces of those we encounter. Christ is no longer in the tomb but instead lives within each of us.
Question to Consider: What area of your life needs resurrection right now?
Right now I feel that God is resurrecting my relationship with my son. He is asking us to trust in him that he will see our family through this difficult time as we help our son separate from the person who has brought so much pain and strife into his life and into ours; who has lead him away from faith and from family. It’s a difficult path to be on because as a mother I want to fix everything right this very moment. But God is calling me to simply trust in him and to be patient with the process. Christ’s resurrection wasn’t immediate and that is an important fact to remember… God’s timing is best and will bring about the most fruit in our lives.
Your Turn: Do you believe in the Resurrection? If not, what holds you back? How would your life be different if you were called to die for your faith as the early Christians did? Could you? Would you? Do you die to yourself so that you can live for Jesus?
Prayer: Jesus, unleash the power of your resurrection. Resurrect the area of my life that most needs it today.
Help me to die to myself so that I may rise with you. Amen.