If we look around us, the world seems to have moved away from any trace of civility, polite social discourse and the ability and/or the willingness to simply respect each other as human beings. People stand up in hallowed halls and shout liar during a formal speech and bricks are thrown through windows to express anger with a legal vote. Road rage is the norm not an exception. We seem simply to have gone mad! Moving through this milieu is an undercurrent that has permeated all factions of society. This unseen force started to form in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It’s grown to monumental proportions and, I believe, is an integral part of what is driving the radical change in our society. That’s the blatant movement of “self-esteem”. You hear it as an excuse in court cases, a reason for therapy, cause for divorce and the mantra that gives one the “right” to have an opinion or action that only benefits themselves and their own personal comfort level.
You’ve heard the philosophies that have been generated by the “self esteem first” culture: “I’m a good person and I don’t have to go to church. I know that I’ll go to heaven because I do my best to live life in a kind way.” In the mean time, I have seen these “philosophers” bend the rules and morals to fit their own wants and needs and put themselves into a position of personal comfort. They plow ahead practicing their own brand of worship by completely ignoring the Church which could provide them with the best information and the most comfort for a life lived with tangible purpose in the arms of a loving God. This has got to be one of the universal, all time “ponzie schemes” ever perpetrated on the human race. The enemy is clever. If, however, we check our sources we can see that the Bible might be interpreted as providing rationale for their cause. It does specify that there will be resurrection for all. As a matter of fact this is mentioned is several places; “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in tombs will hear his voice and come out….” (Jn 5:28), “ The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened and the bodies of many who had fallen asleep were raised….they entered the holy city and were seen by many .(Mt 27: 50-53), “I saw the dead, the great and the lowly standing before the throne. … The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. (Rev 20: 11-14) So the bible confirms that all will be raised. This should give the “I’m a good personites” great hope, all will rise! But just like a philosophy that only considers self and does not expand one’s horizons with a broader view the partial quotes cited above are incomplete information. We must hear and see God’s complete message and be willing to accept all parts of it, rather than tease out the sections which make us feel warm and fuzzy.
The cited teachings revolve around Jesus’ authority and the fact that He has clearly been handed the power of life and death permanently by the Father. They lay out the parameters of what is expected of us by God and how that will move to a non-revocable end in eternity. There is no gray here, this is serious business! Each quote refers to the astounding circumstances that are the result of the death of the Son of God. They are, in a very direct way, the clear map of what the conclusion of any human life will look like. They are not mysterious or cryptic or coded. Each message tells us what the end result of our time on earth will be no matter who we are or what we have done, the circumstances at the finale will be identical for all. Needless to say, those circumstances have little or nothing to do with what we decide is good or bad or worthwhile or not. There is clarity that the only thing which will be held up as our measure is to be the will of the Father as passed on to the authority of the Son.
First of all, resurrection for all is a reality, but along with that comes the authority of scrutiny that the Father has given the Son: “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes. Nor does the father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whomever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who has sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself. And he gave him the power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation. ‘I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.’” (Jn 5: 21-30) So we clearly see that even Jesus, the Son of God, does not have the nerve or ego to define his own conduct and parameters. His strong and constant reference is to the Father and doing the Father’s will, even in matters of life and death, literally. There is resurrection for all and after that we will be held to the standard that the Father has set as interpreted by the Son. No where are we taught, whatever works, or makes us feel good, or is most convenient. Everything we do, say or think will be held against the Father’s standard and there are no “do-vers”. This teaching is so strong that even in the text we see Jesus repeat “Amen, amen” twice. We say this word so casually today that we probably need to be reminded that, in biblical times, the phrase “amen” was one of the strongest and most potent affirmations that you could give anything, it was never pronounces lightly.
So we see that Jesus has delivered an incredibly strong teaching. We need to understand that the purposes of teachings like this, however, are never meant to scare or intimidate people. Jesus only teaches with the clearest intent to show his followers what the best path to life, joy and celebration is. The information he gives here is meant to clarify, no rules or exceptions, twists or turns, simply; “Honor the Father and honor the Son”. Can you imagine a world where these two principles were the underpinnings of everything? It would be vastly different from what we see around us today. Too many people believe in their own brand of salvation. This is not only wrong but sad. If you know folks who are mired in their own “self satisfaction” maybe you could give them the information that they are missing. There is resurrection for all but the vital point is that after that we have more work to do. Tell them about Jesus “secret of life”, the fact that it is not all that complicated and that “resurrection to life” is totally possible simply by following one simple rule. Secrets, rules, money, possessions, power, bread are simply irrelevant when it comes to the final success of the Father’s love as interpreted by the Son. Easter joy and permanent celebration for all is the heart’s desire of our most generous an loving God.
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Check out Kathryn’s view and photos of Easter at www.atravelersview.org
Copyright © Easter 2010, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved
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