Published in Connections Magazine (March/April 2016)
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faith and family
The Significance of the Resurrection
by Marcus J. Carlson
The focus of this issue of Connections is the resurrection and why the resurrection of Jesus matters. To most, certainly those who read a faith-based magazine, this seems like an unnecessary question. To a theological nerd like me, my mind races for hours and even days as to the many layers of meaning and signi cance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then, as I began to think about the meaning, signi cance and value of the resurrection in light of families, I found my mind more easily focused. The rst word that came to mind when thinking about the signi cance of resurrection for families is hope.
I have always said that without the resurrection, Christianity is not much of a faith or religion at all. In fact, Easter would not exist, and the cross is a symbol of pain and defeat rather than an example of love and a statement of victory over sin. Without the resurrection, we are not an Easter people, a people living in hope. Hope matters! Perhaps this goes without saying, yet I think we often forget about the power, meaning and value of hope in our lives, relationships, family and world.
The truth is that the world has always been a place in need of hope. It started long before I was born, and the need for hope will exist until Christ returns. That is, of course, our most signi ant hope—that one day Christ will return and make all things new. In the meantime we know we have hope in Christ, hope in the cross, hope in the resurrection.
Families are at their best when they are centered on hope. Families are closest when hope is their posture, mindset and focus. Appreciation, fun, growth, meaning, healthy relation- ships and deep faith all require hope to be sustainable. While the circumstances of our lives are rarely in our control, our perspective and attitude is always something we can control.
In my many years as a youth pastor, I would do training sessions for youth and adults who were participating in mission trips. It only took one mission trip for me to realize (thankfully it was during an internship) that the one thing you can control on a mission trip is your own attitude. So every mission trip training experience began with a lesson on attitude and the reality that attitude is a choice. Those who had been on mission trips with me in the past could recite my mantra from memory.
In this sense, hope and attitudes share something in common: we can choose them. While true, lasting, meaningful hope is impossible without Christ and the resurrection, families should be the hope centers of the world. A pastor once noted “the local church is the hope of the world.” I agree and would add that families in their varying forms, shapes, makeups and sizes are the hope centers of the world. Children are born with hope — it is in their makeup, it is who they are.
When Jesus elevates childlike faith, I believe one of the aspects of childlikeness He values is hope. Somewhere along the line, whether through experiences, pain, relationships or some other combination of factors, our children lose hope. They are often taught not to hope. We seem to accept this as a necessary reality of adulthood.
While this world may feel hopeless, it is not. We know better, but I am not sure we always live our lives as an Easter people, a people lled with hope. I think of how hopeless the disciples must have felt after the death of Jesus. They believe it is over. All is lost; everything they gave from their lives is gone. Yet, they discover only by looking that the tomb is empty. I believe they went looking for hope, and when they did, they found it.
In the world today our children and youth are not surrounded by hope. They are constantly being measured and told they do not measure up. The expectations inside and outside of schools, homes and churches are more intense, demanding and signi cant than they ever may have been. Our children and youth are constantly being asked to perform and to measure up: physically, emotionally, academically— and even spiritually. The adults in their lives, the culture and their peers are constantly reminding them of their failures and shortcomings. They have grown up in a world where they need to worry about being killed in their schools, movie theaters and even churches. They have grown up in a post 9-11 world.
N. T. Wright notes, “The church is never more than one generation from extinction; all it would take is for a single generation not to hand the word on.” By “word,” Wright does not just mean speci cally the Bible, but Jesus. The Word became esh, the Word of God from the very beginning. Wright is not talking only about passing the Word on to just the children in our families or church, he is talking about the whole world.
In order to pass on our faith to future generations, we must embrace, teach and model hope to them. Where will our children and youth nd hope if not in Christ? Where will our children and youth learn to embrace a mindset of hope in a broken world if not in our families and churches? The only true and lasting hope that has, does and will ever exist in this world is found only in Jesus Christ, and it is all possible because of the resurrection.
So often we talk about what would happen if we grew up with a faithless generation, a fatherless generation, a Godless generation, etc. Some of those fears are legitimate, but I often wonder what would happen to our world, our children and those who come after them if we were to raise a truly hopeless generation. In truth, it is easier to look for and to the hopelessness around us than it is to live in the hope that is found in Jesus Christ. Yet, if this is the direction we choose, we must be prepared for the impact it will have on our children, families, church and world.
Here is a truth of our Christian faith: we have hope! When we look for hope, we nd it. The reason we nd it is because of the resurrection of Jesus. That is one of many reasons why the resurrection matters, and when it comes to our children, youth and families, it may be the most important reason why the resurrection of Jesus Christ matters.
Easter is more than a holiday, family day or high, holy religious day. It is a powerful, important and necessary reminder of hope.
In Christ, we have salvation.
In His resurrection, we have hope.
May our churches be the hope of the world, pointing all to the one true source of hope, Jesus Christ. May our families be centers of hope, changing the narrative and posture of our world forever.
Christ is risen! Hope abounds!