The staff of The Western Journal is working a reduced schedule over Easter weekend to allow our employees the opportunity for rest and worship with their families if they so choose. We are republishing this article as a service to our readers, who reacted strongly to it when it first ran.
Sometime around 1999, I heard about the possibility of a catastrophic event related to the year 2000. Supposedly at the strike of midnight, all computer-based technology would misunderstand what year it was, leaving our emerging digital world in the dark ages.
At that time I was serving as the pastor of Alfalfa Baptist Church in a very rural corner of Caddo County in Oklahoma. I spent December 31, 1999, playing board games with my neighbors, completely disconnected from the threat of Y2K.
Some cultural observers talk about this week’s Easter holiday much in the same way I viewed the Y2K scare. They say that this country is far too disconnected from religious belief to be threatened by the 2,000-year-old story of a resurrection. They feel that our culture is disconnected from the threat of being impacted by Easter.
I, for one, do not believe the unbelievers.
In fact, I believe that our culture is particularly susceptible to Easter’s 2,000-year-old power and desperate to hear about it. Here is why:
Easter is a bald-faced truth claim.
Our present cultural moment is unique not because people are so easily duped by misinformation and fake news but that we are so self-conscious about it. If there has ever been a nation as thirsty for unadorned truth-claims, there may not have been one as aware of it.
But the truth of Easter is just that. Easter is assailable news. Easter makes its facts vulnerable. The message of Easter has never been an unchallengeable statement like “if you believe deeply enough then you can be a Christian, but if not, it is probably because of your lack of faith.”
Easter says: “Hold me to this. If these things are false, I will go away.”
The New Testament writers make crystal clear claims that Jesus Christ was dead, but only for three days. They not only attested that he resurrected, but they included citations and footnotes for reference (Luke 24:13; Mark 15:21).
Later when the Apostle Paul wanted to highlight the importance of believing Christ’s resurrection, he staked Christianity’s entire case on it. He told the new believers in Corinth that if there is no resurrection from the dead, Christianity is a pitiful, lame hobby.
One of the things that Easter offers that we desperately need is a bald-faced truth: Jesus is alive — and if not, Christianity falls.
This is why Sunday you will gather up as friends and church members along with billions of other Christians in a global effort to celebrate meeting the resurrected Jesus.
It is not our faith in the resurrection that is being celebrated. It is Jesus, alive and well.
When we recount to each other the historical facts of his resurrection we are not simply inviting our friends into a collection of optimistic stories about clouds with silver linings. We are inviting them into the best bald-faced true story in the world: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 1:3-4)
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