In my post yesterday I shared the one thing I had not yet surrendered to God: My lack of complete faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While I have an intellectual belief in the idea of the resurrection, I struggle with believing in my heart that Jesus is alive. Like the Apostle Thomas I feel the need to put my hand in His side before I can really believe. For too long I have tried to ‘work my way’ into faith and to bluff God into thinking that I believe, but to no avail. I’ve reached the end of my rope with regard to the resurrection; I must surrender my unbelief to God and let Him do what I cannot.
You may be wondering how I can tell the difference between my intellectual belief and my ‘heart belief’; perhaps my intellectual belief is true faith in the resurrection; perhaps that’s as deep as belief gets in this lifetime.
I doubt it.
I also doubt that much of the rest of the Christian world today is any more certain of the resurrection than I am. Let me explain…
Andy Stanley, the author, communicator, and senior pastor at Northpoint Community Church gave a sermon a few weeks ago as part of a series about the name “Christian” as a brand. In this particular sermon Andy described the rise of Christianity through the fall of Rome. The high point of the story goes something like this:
“As disease began spreading in the major cities of the Roman Empire, the priests of other religions were the first to leave. People would bring their sick to the priests of the Roman gods for healing, and those priests would pack up and leave town because they knew what was coming. But the Christians were different…they didn’t leave with all the other religious people; they stayed behind in the plague-ridden cities to care for the dying, often dying themselves in the process. Christianity spread because people saw how much love the Christians had for others, and because people realized something startling and unique about this small group of people: They weren’t afraid to die.”
That’s how I know my faith is only head-knowledge: The early Christians didn’t just know in their heads that Jesus was alive, they knew in their hearts that He is risen; they knew it with an absolute certainty that compelled them to care for strangers to their own demise.
That’s why I suspect many others in the church suffer from as much doubt as I do: We look, act, and feel nothing like these early Christians. We are hanging on to a shadow of the faith Jesus called His disciples to live by. One reader commented yesterday that he wondered what the church would look like if we were all certain of the resurrection. Good question. What would the church look like if every disciple of Christ knew, deep in his bones, that he is immortal? What would you do with your life if you knew with absolute hope and certainty, with as much certainty as you hold that the sun will rise tomorrow, that you will rise one day as well? Why do you think it is that you lack this certainty?
Stay tuned for more thoughts on this subject tomorrow…