Practice Resurrection. This is the last piece of advice that Wendell Berry gives in his poem “Manifesto:The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.” The poem is basically an invitation to enlarge the stunted imagination of our world’s conventional wisdom and set life in a bigger context. In short, Berry’s call is to set our lives in a story that we do not control but in which we participate. Namely: the life God intended for us to live.
Jesus said, “I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10)”, and this abundant life is something that is available to us now. It is, however, a life that we grow into. It is a life that is guided by a continual process of waking up to what it looks like to participate in eternal life. It is a life where we give ourselves to the task of practicing resurrection.
Basically, what this means is that we pursue what lasts. On the one hand this means facing into the inevitability of our death and investing in what outlives us. Yet it also means acknowledging the reality of eternal life and enthusiastically, steadfastly “abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain. (1 Cor .15:58)”
In Jesus’ teaching about this eternal life we can live right now, he essentially invites us to live into a world where people are more important than things. He calls us to see how our present relationships are more lasting than the legacies we try to build. He admonishes us to step back and acknowledge the ways in which we “spend our money for that which is not bread and our labor for that which does not satisfy (Isaiah 55:2)”; but he also points the way to living water and the bread of life.
The idea of practicing resurrection reminds us that the journey of faith is just that: a journey. And this journey is not about striving to arrive at a place of perfection, or striving to acquire a set of resources, so much as it is about a quiet, consistent determination to move toward the One who has invited us to exchange our restlessness for the rest we find when we occupy the place God has prepared for us.
Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)