29 Apr Superficial Resurrection Hope?
As Christians in the modern West, we often minimize our resurrection hope when we minimize the profound loss in death. Resurrection hope is radically good news. But we miss its power when push the reality of our mortality to the sidelines.
I recall a recent conversation with a pastor who serves in a church made up exclusively of persons in their 20s and 30s. He emphasized, rightly, that the Kingdom of God has come among us, and we are to be involved in the Kingdom of God now. But he realized that after several years at the church, they had never talked about death, or life after death — it’s “here and now” rather than “life after death.” If that is the case, what is our “resurrection hope” besides a call to be involved in the Kingdom in the present? That is good as far as it goes. As long as one doesn’t remember that we are small, mortal, embodied creatures…
Even at funerals, even the word “death” is often taboo. Funerals are often turned into “celebrations of life,” for those who “are in a better place.” But this is not a fully-orbed Christian approach to death and resurrection.
These issues raise bigger questions: How does our culture deny the reality of death, and in what ways does the church conform to this trend? What does genuine resurrection hope entail?
In this video discussion at the Henry Center at Trinity Divinity School, I explore these questions with Taylor Worley. We emphasize that true resurrection hope resides in our participation in Christ’s resurrection. Healing right now is a gift, but it’s also always temporary. Resurrection is not resuscitation. Instead, God alone provides the only permanent solution to death: resurrection in our glorified bodies as we participate in Christ. Until that day, we enjoy the foretastes of resurrection, yet we long for the day when Paul’s testimony in 1 Cor. 15 finds fulfillment:
“For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”