From the pulpit: God rewards through resurrection

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The resurrection of Jesus is the most distinctive and defining claim of Christianity. Without it, as Paul says, there is simply no reason to bother with the Christian faith or with being a disciple of Jesus.

In short, if there is no God who raises the dead, then there poor are just headed for a hard life and an earlier departure from the earth than those of us who are not poor.

And the hungry are in real trouble, and the weeping are destined to die with a knife of grief in their hearts.

It is only the power of God who raises the dead that makes it possible for the poor to be rich in faith, because they know that it is God, not their own power, which sustains them.

It is only the power of God who raises the dead that allows the

hungry to get up and face another day because they know that God does not abandon the work of his hands.

It is only the weeping who understand what is at stake in the experience of love, because they stand right next to the God who hates death more than all of us and is committed to raising the dead.

So, if there is not resurrection, then there is no God who raises the dead, at least not for us.

We may as well follow the best advice the world has to offer and try to be among the rich and enjoy life&8217;s pleasures that we can stuff in our mouths and laugh while we can, because life could be over tomorrow.

It&8217;s only a faith in the God who raises the dead that would explain why anyone would give their lives away in service to others, or share their possessions, or take food out of their houses and put it on other people&8217;s tables.

It&8217;s only a faith in God who raises the dead that gives us confidence to live next to poor and the hungry and the weeping and not run away or shun them, because we know they are actually walking with God.

So, when faith in the resurrection goes away, so does the whole ethic of Christian discipleship and we lapse into the tow other options for life.

One is to run away and cut ourselves off from the pain of the world, and the other is to adopt the age-old &8220;myth of redemptive violence&8221; in which we go out to curse and destroy everything we find troubling or frightening.

Meanwhile, Jesus dares to assert that the world can be fed and even worst within each of us and within humankind can be healed, cured rather than cursed.

But, of course only those who believe in God who raises the dead would ever dare to think such things. For them, it&8217;s the hope of the world, a hope worth the risk of everything, even our own lives.

Robert Montgomery is the pastor at Cahaba Valley Church