Jesus breaks the chains of sin and death.
This is the very heartbeat of Christianity. He breaks them with his death, both ransoming us from our accuser and establishing the victory. He then destroys them forever the morning he exits the tomb.
So why are sin and death still so active?
Why do I open the news and see reports of terror attacks, or stupid and tragic accidents, which shatter both lives and relationships? Why do I have to listen to people who learn the wrong lessons from death-dealers and are intent on being worse examples of humanity in an effort to appear even stronger 1? Why do I have to see people, for whom I love and care, sink into fear so overpowering they begin see temporary salvation in monstrous actions?
I thought the chains were broken.
Christianity in present-day America would have you believe questions such as those voiced above are dangerous. The truth is, in fact, quite the opposite. These questions aren’t new, they were asked by our earliest brothers and sisters as they faced the power of Rome while daring to proclaim, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” My questions are, in fact, the cry of faith. In fact, I’d contend not asking these questions is what’s really dangerous. These are the types of questions which keep faith honest. Without them, we become caricatures of holiness – distortions which are comical, unflattering, and weak. Not asking these questions as we declare, “Jesus Christ is Lord” reveals how much we’re actually worried our foundation is built on sand.
I ask them because my heart aches and I want to know, “How long?” How long will we have to watch injustice reign, and feel the temptation to bow down to its false promises? How long until the New Creation comes at last?
The thing about asking questions is, once you begin asking them you never stop. And the best answer I can come up with at the moment is, “I don’t know, but Jesus Christ is Lord.”
To my non-religious readers that might seem like the worst form of cop out or self-delusion. All I can say in response is this, “I was found by Christ, I really didn’t go looking for him. I don’t get why the time has not come to finally end all suffering, but nor do I understand why someone with as much darkness in their soul as I could possibly be called as a child of light. I accept the blessings, it would be childish of me to not accept the heartache as well.”
And so we Christians wait, and do the best we can in the world. Why? Because we believe the chains have been broken, and we are supposed to be witnesses to that fact. During my Easter sermon last year I ended with two sentences, “Christ is risen. For God’s sake be risen with him.”
Perhaps it’s through our heartache we die and are risen with Jesus in new life. We die to ourselves so we might be a blessing which points to a world where death is no more.
Alleluia, Christ is risen.
- Yes, Mr. Trump, I’m looking at you. ↩