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Beyond Belief

Beyond Belief

John 20:19-31

221px-The-Maesta-Altarpiece-The-Incredulity-of-Saint-Thomas-1461_Duccio.jpgThomas wants proof. And who can blame him. Things had been going so well. Just a short while ago Jesus had triumphantly entered Jerusalem. Thomas found himself in the entourage of a super-star. Then suddenly his whole world collapsed. Jesus was arrested and stuck up on a cross. Scared out of their minds, the disciples were on the run. Thomas was certain that he and his friends would be next on the hit list. So he’s hardly in the mood for all this happy talk about Jesus returning from the dead. Unless he gets rock solid evidence that he can see and feel, he’s not going to get swept up in some fantasy. And then the risen Jesus delivers proof beyond all doubt.

Thomas had stated adamantly that: I will not believe. Now he proclaims the risen Christ as: My Lord and my God. So now that Thomas believes and the other disciples believe what does that mean? Do they conclude: Well this has all been very interesting. But we have nets to mend and fish to catch. See you in temple sometime. What was the real impact of the Resurrection on their lives? What is the real impact of the Resurrection on our lives? For an answer we turn to another Thomas, Thomas Merton who tells us: It is not enough to believe in the Resurrection, we must participate in it.

The Resurrection changes the whole ball game. Now we are both the beneficiaries and the legacy of the risen Christ. We are the beneficiaries because now life has new meaning. We are showered with grace. We are cleansed of our sins. We are meant for eternal happiness. That’s because Jesus was not just another gentle holy man who ran afoul of the tough guys and got the chop. Sadly, history is full of those stories. But the risen Jesus is infinitely different. He is God, the Son of the Father, come to earth for our salvation, in total command of both life and death. As his legacy, our lives were never meant to be business as usual, with a religious flourish thrown in at Christmas and Easter.

You may believe in the Universal Theory of Relativity, but unless you are a practicing atomic physicist, that belief has little impact on the way you live your daily life. Not so with belief in the Resurrection. We are the living legacy of the risen Christ. Beyond private, personal belief, our lives are meant to proclaim: He is risen. Christ lives in us. He is risen in us. We are the Body of Christ …the risen Christ.

For us the Resurrection cannot be some abstraction, only peripheral to our real lives. As Christians, the Resurrection gives us meaning and direction. It necessarily shapes our thoughts and actions. Thomas Merton captured this centrality when he wrote that Christianity gives us the power to confidently face the inevitability of suffering and death “… because the Resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of meaning.” In the risen Christ, death is not a destination. It is a passage. Beyond belief in the Resurrection lies actively living and sharing the joy of the Resurrection… both now and in eternity. And that’s as good as life ever gets. Alleluia!

The Reverend David Sellery, Author, Resource Creator and Retreat Leader. Committed to a vocation that focuses on encountering God in the midst of everyday life, I serve as an Episcopal priest who seeks to proclaim the good news of God in Christ in worship, pastoral care, education, stewardship, congregational development and community outreach, while continually engaging our wider culture with dynamism and hope.

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