Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross....
- Hebrews 12:2
Sometimes we who air our opinions in public via sermons, columns, or letters to the editor do so because we feel some urgency to fix the world. If something or someone doesnt change, terrible consequences will occur - or something like that. But in these pre-Easter days, Im wondering why we - I, especially - dont follow the advice of the author of the Book of Hebrews and fix our eyes on Jesus, instead.
For Christians, Easter is the most important day in the church year, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ the event that sets our faith apart from all other religions. As revered as other deities may be to those who worship them, no one else in all of history ever returned to life on his own power.
Easter represents victory not only over the evil in the world and in our own lives, but over the ultimate evil, death itself - not only for Jesus, but for all who call Him Lord.
Because I live, Jesus said, you will live, also (John 14:19).
So why do most of us who call ourselves Christians live in an aint-it-awful world? Why do we act as though there were no death-defeating God in control, and that the world and all its problems are on our shoulders alone?
Lee Whiston was an author, pastor and the most important mentor of my young life. White-haired before I knew him, this gentle man was wisdom wrapped in a cloak of encouragement, guidance without a trace of thou shalt or thou shalt not, and love that didnt seem to notice the frailties of his congregation or friends.
Typical of his response to one of my perennial bouts of pessimism was this: Barbara, youre not living in the realm of the resurrection. Often, especially in these war-torn days, I think of Lees words and ponder the realm to which he referred.
The original post-resurrection days must have resembled Colonial America following the Revolution, V-E and V-J Day at the end of World War II, and the medal ceremonies at the recently completed Olympics all rolled into one.
For those who grieved their Lords death, seeing Him alive again was an ecstatic experience. For those who understood that this victory was not over mere rivals or the enemies who had killed Him, but over forces no human had ever conquered before, the realm of the resurrection meant that everything about their world, imperfect though it remained, was alive again and full of hope.
Though governments continued to repress and impoverish the masses, and justice was administered less by law than by fickle, human whim, the energized disciples spread Christianity across the known world, even though, for some, martyrdom was their earthly reward. They could endure any pain, any discouragement, and even death, because their behavior was synonymous with their faith.
For me, these nearly 2,000 years after the first Easter, thinking about that realm is both a comfort and a reality check. The current, post-resurrection world is imperfect, too, and some things really are getting worse instead of better.
But the resurrection story reminds me that we can live above our flagging spirits, our temporary set-backs, and anything else in the physical realm because the final victory has already been won.
I doubt Ill ever completely grasp such total optimism - my aint-it-awful syndrome is a hard act to kill - but Im going to try. This Easter, how about joining me in leaving the burden of fixing the world to God, and fixing our eyes on Jesus instead.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to seabara@ aol.com.)
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