Sometimes, I wonder whether contemporary Christians really believe in the resurrection. I don’t mean in the sense that they are liberals or think that it is a myth or whatever. I refer to the more concrete and practical sense of whether they do believe in their redemption, vindication, healing, tear wiping and salvation at the General Resurrection and the Last Judgement.
So many Christians are so anxious to avoid the charge of “escapism” or whatever that they have forced the entire significance of the Christian faith on this side of heaven. Articles after articles, testimony after testimony, are all aimed at the ability to experiencing the power of the Christian faith on this side of heaven. The Christian faith can advance justice, eliminate poverty, give you a meaningful and fulfilling life, etc, etc, etc.
I guess I’m just a despondent cynical Melanchthonian, but I do believe in the good old fashion view that we were meant to suffer in this life, and that blessings in this life are rare moments of condescension from God to relieve us from the miseries of this world and to prop us up in faith and hope until we perish in dust and are raised again at the Resurrection. That in the words of Martin Luther,
…let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign.
I do believe that we will not be able to achieve much in this life, and that worldly achievements and a “full and fulfilling life” are rare gifts of God to a few. I do believe that the vast majority of our dreams and hopes and desires will be frustrated, and that in the pursuit of holiness and righteousness of the Kingdom we will have to sacrifice a lot of worldly happiness and benefits and become miserable losers. I do believe that we are wanderers, strangers, as despised and as our Saviour who had no beauty that we might desire him. I do believe that there are a lot of suffering, pain, injustice which cannot be resolved and will never be resolved on this earth despite the hubris of man, and that we lie in the bondage of sin from which we shall only be freed in the life of the world to come.
But then we can only confront this truth because we do believe in the Resurrection and the Last Judgement, that our deeds are to be done for our Father’s eyes only, seeking the approval of God the Father who watches in secret, and not man’s praises, and who will reward us for our labour and sacrifices at the Last Judgement when the secret motives of the hearts of man will be revealed. I do believe that whatever we have given up here on earth, that “full and abundant life” we have sacrificed in pursuit of holiness, will receive its reward and commendation from God at the end. I do believe that whatever pain, suffering and miseries we experience in this world will be forgotten as nothing more than a bad dream, and that every tear which we have shed while in this world will be wiped in the next when at last we see Christ, our Lord and Saviour face to face.
I do believe in that when that Great Day of Salvation dawns upon us, when at last the darkness which has surrounded our lives where we have stumbled about trying to make our way in this world in confusion, not knowing and understanding what the hell it was all about, this darkness will at last clear on that day, and we shall understand and know its meaning in the light of that eternal serene light of God who draws all things in heaven and on earth to himself, in accordance to his infallible will in Jesus Christ.