I was just doing a little perusing of a couple of blogs and came across this article on Red Letter Christians by Hugh Hollowell. In it, he explains how he is often emailed questions demanding to know his particular theological stance on any given number of doctrines or issues. Here, he writes that he was sent the question, “Do you deny the resurrection?” Now, the person who was writing was actually trying to figure out if he believed that the resurrection actually happened. Rather than answer with the simple, “No, I do not deny the resurrection happened,” Hollowell offered a better answer that gets to a deeper and better question for all of us. Hollowell quotes the words of Peter Rollins to answer the question:
Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think…
I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.
However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.
I think that this is a much more telling response. Hollowell then goes on into deeper explanation and reflection, and I will quote extensively here:
The ancient story is that the most powerful government the world had ever known, Rome, had done the worst thing it could imagine to this man Jesus. They beat him and killed him by the most brutal means at their disposal. Yet and still, the last words on his lips are reported to be his asking God to forgive his killers. On that Friday, the powers of the world said “No” to Jesus and the Kingdom of God he was preaching. If the tomb was empty on that Sunday morning long ago, that was God’s “Yes” to Rome’s “No”. If the tomb was empty, then love overcame power and vindicated Jesus. It means that Jesus was right – the Kingdom of God is at hand, and we are invited to live in it.
If I swear allegiance to this Kingdom, where apparently the dream of God is that it be on Earth as it is in Heaven, then that has implications for how I live. If I pledge allegiance to the USA, it means I should not sell secrets to China. If I pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God, then I cannot see how I can lend aid and support to the powers that oppose it, such as consumerism, militarism, class disparity and xenophobia.
If I act hateful, or in fact, less than loving to my neighbor, I have denied the resurrection just as surely as my selling state secrets to China denies my allegiance to the USA. I can wave a flag all day, but if I am acting against my country, you can hardly call me a patriot. And I can believe whatever you want about what happened that Sunday morning, but if I am not using what power I have to help God bring the Kingdom into fruition, to help make it on Earth as it is in Heaven, I don’t expect you to call me a Christian.
I think this reflection certainly offers us much food for thought. We may confess that we believe in the resurrection with our lips, but are we demonstrating that belief with our lives?
Where, in your own life, are you currently denying the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Let’s seek together to proclaim the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ not only with our lips, but with our lives!