It all hangs on Easter

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.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

3 thoughts on “It all hangs on Easter”

  1. “Humanity attempted to overcome sin on its own.”
    i would add this:
    “Humanity insisted on overcoming sin on its own. So God…”

    And i suggest that the new empires are just as irrelevant as the old ones.
    They all have this in common: they’re all cheating God and cheating on him.

    The more things change, the more the stay the same.

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  2. i remembered that i forgot something your post got me thinking about.

    i recall how amazing and cool i thought it was when i learned that we share common DNA with all creation. We have about 91% of the same DNA with a rabbit, 98% with the chimp, and 50% with plant life.

    It isn’t shocking to consider that when a thing flourishes on its own it looks drastically different than another thing. Yet, in their earliest stages, at the foundation of their existence they’re made of the similar stuff.

    i know it’s an imperfect analogy. But it isn’t a stretch to consider that all things attribute their uniqueness to the information that gives them their character; and in turn being unique contributes back to the giver.

    Everything that is exists for the same purpose.

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  3. That is a great anology. And it works at a couple levels.
    In a human, the cells that will eventually become quite different begin pretty well identical. A nerve cell and a bone cell will somebody not at all resemble each other. But in the earliest stages of the fetus, they are indistinguishable.

    Similarly, a human fetus and a turtle fetus (is fetus the proper term for something that is an egg) look quite similiar at the very earliest stages of development.

    Even human brains have the unique-to-humanity aspects added on to the outside. The inner portions, even on a physiological level, quite resemble more primitive animals.

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