“It’s a damn impossibility. If Jesus came back, then Jesus never died in the first place!”
“You are an idiot! Just because you have never seen it happen, it can’t be true!”
“People don’t come back from the dead. Near-death experiences are just that, NEAR death.”
“Jesus wasn’t “people.” Jesus is the Son of God, for Christ’s sake…”
Everyone sat a bit stunned in the local Starbuck’s. These two young men — maybe twenty-somethings at Vanderbilt — knocked back their chairs and yelled the above ‘conversation’ at the top of their voices. I came away impressed — this is the first incidence of evangelism I have witnessed in months, and the most passionate I have seen in years. Of course, it would be great if sharing the gospel didn’t result in fisticuffs… or would it?
Maybe what we need is a Christian Fight Club — an underground, unauthorized knock-down-drag-out fight for what’s worth believing in. We have so sanitized the Christian faith that we often forget that following Jesus can hurt. If we learn nothing else from the holy week journey from Palm Sunday through the Cross to Easter it should be that Christianity — done the way Jesus taught — is a messy, painful, scary, and violent experience. People fight for what they care most deeply about — perhaps without a fight, people forget to care.
I say a lot of provocative things about the church. Most I believe, but sometimes I will say something just to find out if people are listening. I don’t like getting into fights, especially with people who fight dirty, but I always respect people who are passionate enough to say what they believe — even when it disagrees with what I believe.
We love the happy stories about Jesus and the boys, where the crowds cheer and the multitudes get fed and thousands are baptized and Peter finally gets it right — one big party. But what we need are the stories that remind us that people wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff, and that families split over their faith, and disciples ended up beheaded or nailed to crosses. Christianity is not a faith for wimps. It isn’t all about the happy, comfy, nice, sweet, friendly sides of life. There are bad things happening in the world that need to be confronted and challenged. This takes courage. There are people doing bad things that need to be stopped from hurting others. This is risky. There are people starving and dying of treatable diseases and living on the streets. These things require sacrifice. There are drugs, and gangs, and rape, and domestic abuse and a thousand and one terrible tragedies that will not just go away if we ignore them. Resurrection doesn’t come to those who stay comfortable and secure on this side of Good Friday — there’s a cross in the way — resurrection is the promise that every risk, every sacrifice, every act of courage, and every stand for justice is worth it.
We live together in a broken world, but a world that is not beyond redemption, not beyond fixing. This is the miracle of Easter. We stand and cheer, waving palms, singing Hosanna, because we believe, WE BELIEVE, that Jesus of Nazareth is the one, true Son of God, and we commit to journey with him to our own personal Jerusalems — where people won’t always understand us, where they will not always want to see us, where we may place ourselves in danger, and where we may find ourselves beaten and bruised. But hey, what kind of faith do we have if it isn’t a faith worth fighting for?
Categories: Christian discipleship