The Resurrection and the Life
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
Today is Easter – the day on which Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Except for a ham dinner and Easter eggs, what does the resurrection mean for us personally? How, if at all, does it affect our daily lives? It’s an important question and one which we should be able to answer. It’s also an answer which I’ve gotten terribly wrong in the past. As Christians, we believe that on that first Easter, God breathed life back into Jesus. The stone was rolled away (Mark 16) and Jesus walked out of that tomb, never to return death or the grave.
Here’s where I’ve gone wrong: Today’s passage rightly teaches that as Christians, we spiritually identify with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection so that we may experience the new life. I once assumed that this meant that just as Christ left the tomb, never to go back, that we too, would be miraculously transported out of the old life, into the new one, never to struggle again. I’ve wanted faith to mean that all the failings of our old life are erased – that we’re perfected when we come to faith in Christ.
This, however, has not been our experience. Some of us have found miraculous grace and healing when it comes to one specific struggle, but none of us have been made completely perfect. We know that God considers us forgiven for all time but the reality of our lives here on this Earth and in this flesh, is that we’re still profoundly flawed. In our addictions and struggles, it’s as if God has rolled the stone away, but the dark, warm, haze of the tomb has become comfortable. We want to step out into the day, but we know that the blazing light will burn our eyes. We’re miserable with the old life and we desperately desire the new one, but honestly, it’s hard to let go of the tomb because it’s become a part of us. So, many of us find ourselves going back.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Here’s our reality and here’s what the resurrection means. Christ died and returned to life so that we too may know the new life. This isn’t automatic or instant though. Christ did the work – now we have a responsibility to respond appropriately. The new life is ours, but if we want, we can stay stuck in the tomb. Daily, as Christians, our job is to do whatever it takes to leave the tomb, entering the new life. Daily, as Paul said, we must put to death the deeds of the old life to follow Christ. Only in doing so, will we experience the blessed new life for which we were created. Only in doing so, do we experience the power of the resurrection here and now.