Each of us ride under a banner that defines and animates us. As Christians, the banner we ride under is the simple phrase, “He is risen!”
For Sunday, April 16, 2017
Year A, Easter, Resurrection of the Lord
Have you ever been working to understand something and then suddenly, by reframing the problem, everything suddenly comes into focus? I remember in college reading a book about Marxism and struggling to understand how a Marxist actually made sense of the world. Suddenly, it hit me. For a true Marxist, the source of all of our problems is that we are alienated from the means of production. So, the key to happiness was not overcoming personal shame or guilt. There wasn’t anything inherently wrong with Man himself. The problem was not internal but external. Solve the external problem and Man would flourish.
There is a variation on this theme popular in the West today. It’s called cultural Marxism. In this version of Marxism, the problem people have is that they have been alienated from cultural acceptance. So, grant them that acceptance, and all will be well. You could therefore say that the Marxist flies under the banner, “Factory owner” and the Cultural Marxist flies under the banner “Culturally acceptable”. As Christians, though, we fly under a very different banner. On ours it says, “He is risen!”
Each of this week’s readings point to aspects of this theme of Christ’s resurrection. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day” (Acts 10:39, 40). In John’s gospel, Mary comes to the tomb, doesn’t find Jesus in it, but turns around to find a mysterious gardener that she soon realizes is none other than Jesus himself (John 20:11-16). This week’s reading from Colossians declares this theme most directly. “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.”
In other words, the banner Christians fly under is “He is risen!” We acknowledge with classical Marxists that being alienated from the means of production can be painful. No one ought to be exploited as a worker. We also acknowledge that social acceptance matters. No one wants to be declared a social outcast. In fact, as Christians, we currently feel the pain of either having to capitulate to the dogma of totalitarian diversity or being declared social outcasts ourselves.
Yet as Christians we also know a deeper truth. Being exploited as a worker or being socially marginalized are just symptoms of a deeper problem. This deeper problem is that we as human beings are alienated from God Himself. The good news of Easter is that God sacrificed his one and only Son to overcome this alienation, to conquer death, and to give us new and eternal life starting right now. The Bible describes this good news as forgiveness: “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).
Have you never been forgiven but would you like to be? Simply believe Christ is risen from the dead and forgiveness is yours. Have you believed in Christ previously but forgotten what the freedom of forgiveness feels like? Whether you feel it at the moment or not this forgiveness is still yours. What flies on the banner of every Christian is this: “He is risen!”
- What are some other banners you see people flying over their lives?
- For those of you flying “He is risen”, how is this bringing joy to your life today?