In the Easter season the talk in the church is often framed in terms like renewal and new life. We link resurrection with the season with Spring. The images of bulbs blooming and dormant perennials springing to life become a means of representing new life in Christ. Yet the springtime metaphors of butterflies breaking free of their cocoons and animals emerging from their winter hibernation don’t really do justice to what we are celebrating in the wake of the Resurrection of Jesus. For what we are celebrating is not merely a continuation of the cycle of life, but a reordering of life itself; not the perpetual renewal of life as we have always known it, but the advent of an entirely new way of living. A remaking of all things.
St. Paul sums it up well when he writes in 1 Corinthians 15, “Death is swallowed up in victory” and has therefore “lost its sting.” In other words, because of the resurrection of Jesus, instead of an expectation of death, there is an expectation of eternal life, and that new perspective has a dramatic impact on the way we live our lives in the here and now.
The resurrection of Jesus reveals and disarms a lie that undergirds the way we configure our lives in a fallen and unredeemed world. Eugene Peterson sums up this lie in his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction when he describes the primary motivators of our lives in this fallen world as “being in control rather than being in relationship [and] exercising power rather than practicing love.”(p.147)
When we live with the assumption that the acquisition of control and power are the keys to success, we live propelled by fear. Fear of our own death and the need to gain power and control over the things that might hasten our death, takes all of our energy. Protecting life becomes more important than living it. The vulnerability and openness required for relationship and love have little room to grow in a world where our primary task is to be vigilant about the things that will merely insure our protection and safety.
When Jesus says “Follow me,” he is inviting us to explore this new life. He is calling us to turn from a fear of death and trust that God has “delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom if his beloved Son.” (Col. 1:13) There is a risk inherent in that invitation. It is the risk of letting go of the lie that keeps us bound to a fear of death and reordering our lives around the truth that can free us to live an abundant life. It’s the risk of embracing a truth that initially makes life feel a bit dangerous and wild. But in the final analysis it’s the risk of giving up the power and control that we could never really keep in order to gain the love and relationship that will never go away.
Dave Rohrer 4/1/2016