Twitter is an amazing thing. I recently developed a correspondence, I might even call it a friendship, with a guy who is about my age and blogs out of Forth Worth, Texas. I send the cell leaders his stuff all the time; his name is Ted Bauer. His profanity-laced writing talks about work, the future of work, the disconnect regular workers feel from their managers, among other things. I like it because it helps me think about how I work, and it also helps me think about how people experience work too. Anyway, I read his stuff and share it. I chat with him too. He knows I’m a pastor and he’s definitely not a Christian, but he’s been respectful and I could see myself being friends with him.
On Monday morning after Easter he wrote a post saying that Christians go to church on Easter, take a nice photo with their kids, and then keep living their life. He is talking about Christian hypocrisy, not living their faith (his words), on the anniversary of the most miraculous event in history: the resurrection of Jesus. Again, the dude is not a Christian, but he’s dropping knowledge about Christianity and sharing wisdom about problems in the church like he is. I was impressed! My favorite parts:
Easter is — look, I’m not very religious but I can put 2 and 2 together on stuff — important because it kind of underscores the whole Christian concept, right? The resurrection is the greatest miracle in human history? And it should speak to our own ability to come back from adversity (personal), our ability to doubt God and rebound (spiritual), and more?
I think that’s the point.
If Easter is the rock upon which your faith is theoretically built, then Easter has to be something you live every day.
He goes on:
You need to live this stuff. Human resurrection — the capacity to come back, to grow — is everything. It’s the undercurrent of the whole human experience. You will lose people. Your parents will die. This happens to everyone. How you gonna get it? Who you gonna be in that moment?
What I appreciate about Ted’s perspective is that he gets over the intellectual problems that we often have when we are thinking about a miracle like the resurrection. We can talk too much about the “what” and the “how” rather than the “why.” Convincing someone that the resurrection of Jesus is historically true might be important.
But convincing someone that through the power of the resurrection, we can change and so can the world? Now we’re getting someone. Like Ted said, The resurrection speaks to our own ability to come back from adversity, our ability to doubt God and rebound. It speaks to our capacity to come back, to grow.
That basic human desire that Ted is distilling is why I am still committed to sharing the Gospel with my friends. Because I think they want that freedom, that ability to transform, that hope that something is going to change.
And so I want to get down to the point that the power of the resurrection of Jesus gives us hope not only that we will resurrect in the age to come, but resurrection, transformation, the ability to rebound has real-life ramifications now. Applied theology that results in practical improvement is elemental to our faith.
The reason Ted is saying Christians only show up on Easter? Because their faith is not tangible. It’s not practical. It doesn’t move them. You can’t tell the difference between a church-goer and a non-church goer? Why do I show up? To please my parents? Some cultural pressure? To sing songs that declare dubious truths about God and to be guilted into giving money? So the pastor can tell you how much of a jerk you are but Jesus saves you despite himself anyway? Honestly, if that was my experience, I’d show up once a year too.
I want to keep practicing resurrection in order to make what is too often abstract into something lived and something real. I want to point out how we can plainly see resurrection in the world around us and in ordinary things.
I hope this helps us move out of “Easter as a holiday,” and rather resurrection as life. I think we fail at living out our faith because it is so often highlighted by singular events and even singular holy days. Like Easter. We wait all of Lent to get to that point, and we can just go back to normal after. Some people even memorialize the day they became a Christian and their baptism. I think those things are good, but I also think sometimes change is gradual and the process takes time. (Trust the process, fam. Go Sixers.)
If you want to live out your faith everyday? Try a cell. They are incubators for your faith where it can grow and develop. It’s impossible to be a Christian alone. Worship every Sunday because without worship we shrink. Corporate and communal worship is a novel experience that can only happen in certain settings. A worship record or a cool Christian podcast is no substitute for liturgy. Want more of an experience? Serve, sacrifice your time, share your money. Be free with your love and your passion. Share it and inspire others. And be fed and receive. This work takes more than just showing up once a week. The church is a body, it’s people; it’s something you are, not something you go to.
If you’re wondering why people only show up on Easter to get a sweet photo taken, it’s because church is too often a consumeristic experience. Circle of Hope is different than that. Give it a shot.