Sometimes, being a Christian can feel like learning an obscure card game.
Have you ever been learning one of these games and it seems like people are toying with you, because the rules are just this long list of unrelated points?
Christianity can appear that way: a long list of unrelated points.
We have this list of things:
Individual souls go to heaven.
Jesus was reseructed bodily.
Adam and Eve brought sin and death into the world.
The rules that applied to Jews don’t apply to us anymore.
There is/will be a new kingdom.
If these beliefs, taken together, formed a garden we might enter into that garden and think it was made up of 5 different plants. Some of us would try to tend all the plants. Some of us would emphasize others. Some of might view one or two of the plants as a weed and try to get rid of them in the hopes that the others would flourish.
I’d submit that if we dug a little into the ground we’d find that these five plants which look different actually share a common root. They aren’t a list of five unrelated rules. They flow naturally out of one great story.
In some way, the miracle of Easter, the truth of Jesus’ bodily resseruction is the central piece of this story. Scripture attests to this. And also, logic. One could wrongly neglect any of the above premises with out it impacting the others: except for the fact that Jesus returned from the dead. Without this truth, the others just fade away.
Here’s my attempt at digging below the surface and finding the common root:
A long time ago, sin entered the world. The result of this sin was death. All sorts of death. Humanity attempted to overcome sin on its own. God was kind enough to share a long list of rules in helping us determine what counts as a sin.
The problem was nobody was able to follow these rules. If somebody had lived sinlessly he would have escaped the consequences of sin (which is death) but nobody did.
Systems and rulers popped up that operated in a fallen, sin-filled, dead world. Even God’s chosen people eventually gave up on the rules and wanted a king like everybody else. The promises of every empire and government that has ever been have ultimately been ones which are built around managing sin and death. Without sin and death, these sorts of empires would be irrelevant.
Along comes Jesus. We can choose for him to have lived and died for us. If we do, we get the benefits as if we had lived the sinless life. We transcend all those forms of death that entered into the world.
And here’s how all those different ideas listed above come together:
In living sinlessly and transcending death, Jesus changed the structure of the cosmos. He gave us a path to escaping the death that had entered into the world. Following the old rules becomes irrelevant. I would submit that the law, as handed down to Moses and company would never have been necessary if Adam hadn’t sinned. (If it had been necessary in the first place than I think God would have given it to Adam and not waited centuries.)
Because of this new order, all the old empires are instantly irrelevant. They are like the soldiers you hear about in World War II, the ones who were isolated on islands for decades and hadn’t heard that Japan lost the war.