The resurrection of Jesus changes everything.
Of Losing and Remembering
The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. It is the core fact, the central event, of Christianity. And, as such, an event sometimes kind of merely assumed rather than truly remembered and celebrated by many “church people.” But we cannot overestimate the significance of what happened that Sunday morning after Jesus was crucified. And we should take every opportunity to remind ourselves of this astounding reality and its implications for everything: all our lives, all our dreams, all our hopes.
So much of what we take for granted about life and death, and what’s important and meaningful, comes to us from the culture in which we are born, educated, and live. We simply breathe in so much of our worldviews from what others around us take for granted. Which is another reason that remembering the Resurrection is so valuable: it is a story powerful enough to jolt our worldviews and taken-for-granteds, opening us to not just a new way of looking at life but a new kind of life, with different ways of telling our stories, different values, and different priorities.
In a society so focused on success and achievement, on acquiring and having, perhaps the Resurrection story has its most profound effect on how we measure our lives and our attitude to winning and losing. Christian writer Ron Sider put it like this: “Those who understand the empty tomb can afford to lose now” (I am Not a Social Activist).
Because of the sacrifice—the loss—of Jesus and His resurrection victory, faithfulness is always more important than success, no matter how we measure that success. Not only is what Jesus did the foundation for this reassessment of our lives, it is also the model: “He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward” (Heb. 12:2, NLT ).
When “we understand the empty tomb” we can confront our inevitable disappointments and losses in a different way. No longer do we have to win, guard, and maintain our image or be a “success” to justify our place in the world or our sense of worth. No longer does our opinion, or even belief, have to win every argument or have the last word. The last word—or the Word that will be the last word—has already been spoken.
Almost paradoxically, this understanding of the Resurrection—meaning we can afford to lose now—also means we can’t lose. One of the most profound New Testament chapters on the meaning of the Resurrection and the hope it offers us is 1 Corinthians 15. It is a grand and sometimes lofty philosophical discourse. But Paul ends on a remarkably practical note: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (1 Cor. 15:58, NLT).
Of course, it is precisely this assurance that means we do not have to be so uptight about winning and losing today. So often contrary to the values assumed and imposed upon us in almost everything we are told and taught, the eternal realities of the Resurrection free us from the need for immediate results and instant wins. “Our response to the hope we have for eternity is to commit ourselves to working for God in the here and now, knowing that what we do has eternal significance” (Julie Clawson, Everyday Justice).
The Resurrection must change everything, including our perceptions and preoccupations about winning and losing. If it doesn’t, the Resurrection is merely an historical oddity, barely worth remembering at all.
Nathan Brown is book editor at Signs Publishing in Victoria, Australia.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.