Some Christians view Christianity as an earthbound religion where the Bible is the story of the earth and man upon it; a place that will be filled ultimately with the glory of God. Having observed that it is not within man to rule himself, these Christians are viewed as doomsday prophets. And why not? The aging world with finite resources and spoiled ecology holds less and less promise for the future. Death and disease continue unabated. Wars and rumors of war abound. The clash of governments cannot be solved, exemplified by the great dilemma in the Middle East. This battle between the descendants of Esau and Jacob has endured for 4,000 years with no resolution in sight. Worldwide Jewry will not let Israel perish; Arab fanaticism will not allow them to give in. The conflict is too important for the world to stand by.
So Christians are joined by a worldful of doomsday sayers.
Now, in the Easter season, this gloomy outlook on the world is distracted by the rites of spring. Signs of re-birth say that perhaps there is hope. What was dead has come alive. Herein lies the Christian hope. The cynic will say that everything continues as it always has - seedtime and harvest, winter and summer, day and night. But the Christian must say that the analogy between the re-birth of spring and the Christian is not a perfect one. Something radical has happened. Something outside the natural life cycle, it is antithetical. It is the bold assertion that one man escaped the natural consequence of the life cycle: decay and oblivion following death. He says that:
I am he that liveth and was dead. And behold, I am alive forevermore. Moreover, I have the keys of the grave and of death.
The world has struggled with that assertion ever since. They say the belief is irrelevant because the fact of the resurrection was overcome by the Hellenistic gloss that the soul of man never dies. The actuality of Christ's resurrection becomes unimportant,-only the flawed symbolism. So the doctrine has suffered. The world is in disbelief. Some are uneasy in church on Easter morn, they feel like hypocrites. They simply can't believe in rolling stones away, a disappearing body, then re-appearance. This is a happening unrelated to the modern world, and can't stand up to investigation. For those who feel this way, consider the circumstantial evidence of the church (however flawed). Consider the rapid growth of the church in the first three centuries and the testimonies of various men: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul and others. This resurrection was not done in a corner.
The real reason for the lack of enthusiasm today lies in the materialism which grips us all and impairs belief. We have read that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. If you think, "He's not talking about me, I'm not rich, can't even make the next car payment", then a different wise saying might apply to you: You cannot serve God and Mammon Wealth is possible for you; and a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Christianity flourishes among the poor where there is no chance to be rich.
`We live in an unreal world in a time of reality. We live in a blip on the line of reality. This blip offers the illusion that modern man has the answer. The only real answer is that you will die in a hospital in a clean bed. We all know we have to die, but as William Saroyan said, "I always thought I'd be an exception." There are no exceptions. Behind this mask we wear depicting the good life, it is difficult to believe that in 16th century Geneva, presided over by the Protestant zealot Zwingli when believers died rather than support the doctrine of the efficacy of infant baptism. The reality of life was stronger then: a lifespan of 35 yrs, toothless at 25, deaf at 45, infant mortality rife; overpopulation in Europe was no problem at that time.
We must re-new our minds. Show me a man who says he has never resolved to change, and I'll show you a man who doesn't know the meaning of repentance. In the Greek this word means to have a new mind. How appropriate it is to make a resolution when we remember the resurrection of Christ who said, "Behold, I make all things new." I shall make me a new mind and be transformed, as Paul said, so that I can see the reality of life without being morbid, so that I perceive the highest goal in life is self sacrifice, and so I can immerse myself in life without being spotted by it.
How is this done? Make up your mind to have good intentions. This is not the road to hell. God seeks good intentions, not human perfection. Make a list of the seven deadly sins (all sins deadly): pride, covetousness, lust, hatred, gluttony, envy, sloth. ( If you malign a friend behind his back, note under hatred.) Now list the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, mercy, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control (Practice forgiveness for all, note under mercy.) Can you make changes in your mind to acquaint you with these virtues?