I have often wondered why I ended up wearing a cross. I ceremoniously and gratefully drape myself with it every day. Why didn’t we Jesus-followers come up with a cool symbol for the empty tomb?
Could it be that dying is more familiar to us than rising?
Do we perversely, self-destructively cling to our death?—even as a badge of our freedom?
This post is only going to last for a few more lines, but I thought I would bring the subject up, at least. We just finished a long Lent focused on dying to our old selves and rising up with new ones. We decided again not to save our lives, but lose them for Jesus’ sake and so receive our true life back in relationship with God, free of God no more. It was great.
But that rising again seems to be the hard part. That person who left the church weighs on me. My own divorce or someone else’s drags me down. Trump is killing me. Opioids. Syria. Extreme poverty on my doorstep. The 1%. My psychological ruts. My loneliness. I have so much that needs to die in me and all around me—or is just dying and there is nothing I can do about it. I complain to my friends a lot, sometimes just the Facebook void, but I know that’s not going to do much. I think dying might be easier than rising.
If we rise, we will have to actually take Paul’s advice: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1). For further implications, read the rest of the New Testament—those people are risen! The one thing I wanted to suggest right now is in the verse: set your heart.
Other versions say: “Set your sights on the realities of heaven. Seek the things that are above. Strive for the things above. Keep focusing on the things that are above.” Follow Jesus right into eternity. Our new life reorients us, unless we want to hold on to death, for some reason.
I suppose death seems familiar and even something we could control. Life is less familiar and we can’t control it. It is a gift. It is like a new set of clothes to put on and walk around in all day today.