Thursday, August 10, 2006

Christian Faith: The Basics, Part 30

When we dare to believe, we find that the risen Christ is there.

One of my favorite passages of the New Testament might be one easily overlooked, whether you're reading it for the first time or if you've read it many times. It comes in the Gospel of Matthew's account of Jesus' resurrection. An angel tells several women who had come to anoint Jesus' lifeless body to go tell the other disciples that Jesus had risen from death. And then he says, "he is going ahead of you to Galilee." (Matthew 28:7)

Not only is Jesus alive again, the angel was saying, but you'll need to run to keep up with Him. Ever since then, Christians have been called, even when they've had their doubts, to take a step in faith toward the Savior they can't see.

Something amazing happens whenever people militate against their doubts about Jesus. The movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, has a scene that stunned me the first time I saw it. Indy's search for the Holy Grail has finally led him to it. But it lays beyond a deep chasm. There was no apparent way to get to the cup. Yet a cryptic clue seemed to say there was a way. Finally, Indy figured it out: To get to the Grail, he needed to take a step into the chasm, trusting that when he did so, he wouldn't fall, but somehow, be supported. He learned that every time he walked forward, another bit of bridge appeared, allowing him to walk right up to the cup he'd been after.

This is like the experience of those who dare to believe in the risen Jesus Christ. They find that He's there. They find, in fact, that He's out in front of us, leading the way.

Yesterday, I said that the first way we know that Jesus rose is the reliable testimony of five-hundred people who had seen Him and risked their lives to tell the world about His resurrection. But the second way we know He's there is that He proves Himself to all who dare to trust Him.

"When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is that very Spirit [of God] bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ..." (Romans 8:15-17) When, even with tiny faith, God's Spirit prompts us to call out to the God we meet in Jesus, it's a sign that our very spirits are dialed into the resurrected Jesus.

No one can claim Jesus as their God and Savior except at the prompting of God's Spirit, the New Testament says. Faith in a Man risen from the dead would be impossible without God's witness. Christians who have experienced the reality of the risen Jesus can identify with the words of a Bruce Cockburn song:
Somebody touched me
I know it was you
Our capacity to believe the Good News of Jesus in a world filled with bad news is confirmation that He is risen and living, an indication that Jesus' promise to be with us always is reliable.

A song sung by some of my evangelical friends ends with this line:
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart
When we dare to believe, we find that the risen Christ is there.

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