Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ressurection...for the rest of us

Positive thinking gets a lot of play these days—and for good reason—having a positive attitude in life can be very helpful. There is a lot to be said for finding the positives in life, but for all the benefits of positive thinking, in some ways I find it shallow and lacking.  Most, if not all humans will at some time, if not multiple times in their life find themselves blindsided, punched in the gut, and knocked off their feet by a one or many life events.  Sometimes it’s something big like the death of a loved one or a broken relationship. Sometimes it’s just the accumulation of many “small” things— the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

All of a sudden we can find ourselves down on the mat, face down in the mud, and down for the count. It’s in these moments when positive thinking just doesn’t cut it; we know we should get back up, brush ourselves off, and get back on the horse—we know groveling in the mud isn’t going to help our situation and that the longer we stay down the harder it is to get up. But we don’t get up, whether it be that we feel we don’t have the energy—physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually—or whether it be we just realize staying down is just easier; easier than expending the energy to get up when we might get knocked down again, easier than cleaning ourselves up when we might get dirtied again, and easier than putting ourselves out there when we might get burned again.  It’s at these times all the positive thinking in the world won’t do us any good—we are in a sense beyond our human ability. For all intents and purposes we are not so much living but dying—for this “life” more resembles that of “death.”

I bet Jesus’ disciples could relate to this feeling. After the exuberant experiences of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem—the person they had followed and worshipped and for whom they had given up their lives was now dead.  Though themselves physically alive, emotionally and spiritually they were anything but that;  lurking in the shadows  desperately trying to avoid recognition and holed up in a safe location—they, along with their leader, were dead and their movement no more. 

It was at this moment—when all seemed hopeless and when all seemed lost—that the miraculous occurred; Resurrection. 

Whether it was physical, spiritual, mystical—whatever—something happened, something unexplainable, something beyond mere positive thinking. The leader they thought dead of the movement they thought over came to them and said, “hey, it isn’t over yet, this is just the beginning.” Beyond rising himself, Jesus called the disciples also to rise above the doubt and discouragement, above defeat and self-pity, and above uncertainty and fear.  They did just that.  Numerous stories exist which tell of amazing acts by these men (and women).  Far beyond positive thinking—these folks were living resurrected lives.

Resurrection is ultimately a choice[i]—Jesus calls us, reaches out to us—in our deepest, darkest, and most deathly state and says “arise.” Beyond “what you can attain… lift your weary head… take my hand and we will rise above.”[ii]  This is true resurrection—this is the resurrected life—from our depths of despair, in our weakest moments and in our darkest hour Jesus calls to us and says “arise.” When I see someone who has been “to hell and back,” what I see is far more than any positive thinking. This resurrection is nothing short of miraculous.

“Rise—he’s calling you to come—just leave it all behind—and rise above.”[iii]

[i] Thanks to friend and classmate Melanie Van Weelden for the new perspectives on resurrection which inspired this blog.
[ii] From the song “Rise” on Michael W. Smith’s album Wonder.
[iii] From the song “Rise” on Michael W. Smith’s album Wonder.

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