Jesus: the resurrected One

Jesus: the resurrected One (montage: J Fowler) (click on image to download or use from Flickr)

“…As Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned in the years leading up to the Second World War, a Christianity without discipleship is a Christianity without Christ. And a Christless Christianity is surely an abomination that is likely to do much more damage to the world in which it appears…” – Alan Hirsch (in the preface to the book ‘Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship‘ by Alan and Debra Hirsch)

I’ve been thinking lately about how Jesus of Nazareth offends our religious sentiments. He stands in glorious contrast to all the religious systems of the world- including much of Christianity. He has made void all the ways we attempt to appease GOD (or “the gods”), atone for our sins and attain to perfection. He calls us out of our spiritual striving- out of our superficial rule-keeping, out of our cycles of guilt and shame, out of our pride and self-righteousness, out of our self-destruction and inner violence, out of our formulas for self-fulfillment and self-actualization. If we will let Him, He will throw us off our ‘high horses’ and blind us like Paul in the book of Acts- until we come to understand that Jesus is the risen Lord- and not merely a role model or an inspiring religious figure among many others.

We are invited by this Risen Lord into a living relationship. We are invited to a Jesus-centric spirituality- a whole-life discipleship- an all encompassing transformation that relies on the central reality of our belief- of Jesus as Lord and Messiah. But without His resurrection His lordship over our lives in both the Age to Come and in the here and now would be nothing more than a religious facade.  As Paul wrote to the ancient Christian community in Corinth:

“…If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death…” (1 Corinthians 15:13-26)

We may call ourselves Christians but are we really disciples of this Living Christ? Are we bearing the fruit of a living faith or preserving the faith of the lifeless traditions of men?

J. Fowler

J. Fowler is the website editor and co-founder, along with his wife Pamela, of the Sustainable Traditions project. The Fowlers live with their seven children on a farm near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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