Believing in resurrection

by Richard on March 24, 2008

A little gem from Will Willimon

Since Jesus Christ is raised, let loose, invading a world, returning to the very people who betrayed him, then we work not alone. The risen Christ goes before us. We serve a God who lives to raise the dead–even us. Therefore, we work with hope–not hope in ourselves and our efforts, but with hope in Christ.

A couple of years ago, a District Superintendent paid me one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received. He had told a pastor of our interest to move him to a different church. “I can’t do this,” responded the pastor. “That church is dead. It’s been dying for years and now I hear it’s really dead.” The DS replied, “I’ll tell the Bishop but let me warn you, this guy really believes that Easter is true. To tell him a pastor or a church is dead means nothing to him. He just sees death as an opportunity to see what Jesus can do.”

It’s strange how many Christians say they believe in the resurrection but yet are prepared to write off those they think are dead or dying. “The church will only succeed,” they say, “if it does/doesn’t do X” (which usually amounts to “if the church listens to me”).

But Bishop Willimon is right: We serve a God who lives to raise the dead–even us.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1

John Meunier 03.24.08 at 10:26 pm

I thought this was excellent, too.

2

Kim 03.25.08 at 12:15 am

The first church I ever belonged to was a “dead” church, in the conservative belt of Surrey. I was just under thirty when I walked into it one Sunday morning, sporting a pony tail and wearing dirty jeans and wellington boots (I had come straight from the hen house where I’d been doing my early morning rounds), and I was the youngest person there. It hadn’t had a minister for a decade. In fact it was the only church to which I had belonged before I began training for the ministry. Haslemere URC was a great blesing.

I would go further than Willimon. Some so-called dead churches are not only opportunities to see what Jesus can do, they are churches where Jesus is already doing, it’s just that folk who judge churces by their size and “liveliness” can’t see it. Screwtape is delighted.

3

Mark Byron 03.25.08 at 2:43 am

The church we visited yesterday on Easter had the sermon focusing on Lazarus. The pastor included a story about D.L. Moody’s preaching at his first funeral and wanting to see what Jesus said at funerals; the problem for Moody was that the folks never stayed dead at the funerals Jesus went to.

We don’t have the power to raise the dead, be it physical or metaphorical, but God does. In. Spades.

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