Faith Matters: A lesson from defeating death

Into the light: Christ's death and resurrection together offer hope for us all.
Into the light: Christ's death and resurrection together offer hope for us all.

What is Christianity? This is the question that over a number of weeks I have tried to offer some answers to.

To understand only part of Christianity can be misleading. For a start, to only know God creates tells us nothing about his interest in us beyond the fact that God likes making things.

To speak only of human sin offers us little beyond despair. To speak of forgiveness is nice but if you don’t get how sinful you are, forgiveness will seem unnecessary. And if forgiveness is unnecessary then the death of Jesus Christ on a cross is emptied of significance.

But if we get the full picture and learn that Jesus Christ rises from the dead, then we may need to recalibrate.    

If Christianity is the religion of the sinner, it is because it is the religion of the saviour. Christianity doesn’t invite God into our world as though God can only be in the world with our permission.

Christianity teaches us that God made the world and by His creative permission we were given life in His world. Creation’s brilliance highlights God’s loving performance and the Bible makes clear that God’s assessment of His loved creation was that it was very good.

Of course, when God created humanity we were immediately made accountable to Him for our performance, for the lives we were given and for the way we live.

That reveals something of a problem that we, not God, have created. Christianity speaks to the self-evident truth we all know, that we are all rebellious and that we all sin. Sin is a push back against God’s good and loving intentions for us and no one needs to be taught how corrosive sin is.

...to defeat death offers real clarity.

In truth, the problem humanity has created by sin is not creative but de-creative.  As such, Christianity speaks to the necessity of all humanity for forgiveness and more so to the goodness and love of God who offers it.

Love of course is costly but as Jesus said, “No greater love has a person than they lay down their life for a friend”. This is a Christian truth we often recite over our Anzac and Remembrance days. But Christianity speaks of the more extraordinary nature of this love in Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t lay down his life for friends, but for enemies in order to make us friends.

Now while the death of Jesus is central to Christianity, the thing that drives home the effectiveness of Jesus’ death on the cross is His resurrection. This is one of those moments when understanding only part of Christianity can be misleading and we must hold these two, death and resurrection, together.

Christianity teaches us that Jesus’ death on the cross was to deal with God’s rightful justice against our sin with a view to offering us forgiveness and reconciliation with God and the gift of eternal life.

How would we know, that in death, Jesus Christ accomplished such a miracle? Well in death alone you may never know, but to defeat death offers real clarity. The resurrection of Jesus points to his rule over life and death and it vindicates His claim to be Lord or King or Ruler over our lives.

The resurrection of Jesus is also the vindication of all that is promised in Christ for us. It is the crowning moment on a life laid down to make us God’s friends. It is God’s “YES” to Jesus sacrifice of love for us and God’s gracious and loving “YES” to the undeserving person who sins.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead tell us that God is satisfied that sin has been paid for, that forgiveness is freely available and that hope now springs eternal for those who make friends with God through Jesus Christ’s laying down of life for us.

What is Christianity? It’s good news!