There’s a great deal of concern today over pollsters trying to determine what people think about what’s going on in the world-- not rightly concerned, however, but only to conform to their thinking for selfish reasons, i.e., TV programs, politicians. In the spring of the year one particular truth pollsters may discover is that this is the most admired season of the year, fortified by a re-birth in nature when Christianity comes alive with hope. It’s not mere coincidence that Passover and Christ’s resurrection are celebrated at the same time; both events pre-figure a future when God and man are reconciled. The sad thing about the hope now held by most of Christendom rests in the belief that salvation will come in a kingdom beyond the skies—heaven, the Kingdom of Heaven, more aptly called the Kingdom of God. This is considered by some Christians to be a blind hope based on a misunderstanding of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The meaning of the resurrection is so plain, so clear, and our understanding has become so muddy, all because of the paradoxical belief that man has an immortal soul, a contradiction which renders his redemption-- as biblically portrayed in the resurrection--unnecessary. For this reason Christians feel guilty—they don’t believe in the resurrection as described in the Bible, but in the resurrection of an immortal soul into heaven after death, by a doctrine taught by man, not God. When ministers are pressed, some don’t believe it literally either—only as symbol; some sort of pious fraud. Was Jesus a benevolent confidence man?
In the face of what has become a common and irrational belief in our answer to the question of life after death, it might be more worthwhile to consider the death of Christ and not his resurrection, because there is no misunderstanding of what happened to him on the cross. His death was the inevitable result of his having corruptible flesh; he was, after all the son of man sent by God into the world to save the world. Christ’s death was made to cover the sins of men, efficacious because he himself did no sin. Christ provides our only escape from the grave—and that by God’s grace.
For He (God) made him who had no sin
to be sin for us, so that in him we might
become the righteousness of God. (2Cor 5. 21NIV)
No matter how much we talk about it, enough can never be said on the subject of sin. We keep forgetting how weak, imperfect, sinful, self-justifying we are; we are a law unto ourselves and often forgetful of our need for discipline. We start to think that ‘everybody is out of step but me.’ Our blindness to our own faults is everywhere manifested in the Bible: Moses at the rock, David and Bathsheba, Solomon’s wives with their temples to false gods, and Peter, unaware of his own weakness,—Judas. This corruption of character doesn’t happen overnight. I once heard a tone poem on moderation, sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, describing three kinds of people: those who believe nothing and tolerate everything, those who believe something, and tolerate nothing and those who believe strongly, but tolerate other opinions, all three immoderate and unbalanced. And to embrace a vice with restraint, to the true moderate, is excess, and this is what I’m talking about:
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen.
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
From Pope’s Essay on Man
Paul tells us that evil communications corrupt good manners—or morals—and one’s conscience can be seared with a hot iron (1Tim 4. 2). Human nature is deceitful, even to ourselves. The worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves, where one trifling evil leads to another. In habits like smoking, dieting, exercise, when you can’t discipline yourself, the next step becomes easier to ignore, not only with ourselves but with others. Witness our evolving reaction to the ubiquitous bikini—from askance to acceptance.
Put off concerning your former conduct the old man, which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4. 22 – 24)
It takes herculean effort to discipline ourselves enough to avoid the corruption of evil communications which beset us every day; is it too far-fetched to state that we probably reach our zenith in character from ages 10 to 12? During these formative years we are bright—teachable, obedient, ingenuous, guileless, with a strong belief in principles. For the rest of us the easy way to destruction is everywhere present, when we can at times be described as being past feeling and walking in the vanity of our minds (Eph 4. 17). Our reflection now ought to be a determination to renew our spirit.