On Easter weekend The EFCA’s Tom Nelson at Christ Community Church in the Kansas City, Missouri area asks why are you a Christian? I wanted to put up a post for this Easter, and yet its hard. I think of all the scandals and problems in evangelicalism and do indeed want to ask why are you a Christian? Instead of doing a deep post about these issues I’ll just let people read Tom Nelson’s post. There are other days to write about these problems in evangelicalism.
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.“
Pope John Paul II
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
Matthew 28:6 NIV
Christ Community’s Tom Nelson
Why are you a Christian? While I do not know what I am based off all my experiences and spiritual trauma endured I sat here for ten minutes at my computer trying to think about how to do this post. Tomorrow is Easter. But when I look at the corruption and issues in evangelicalism in many ways it reinforces doubt of God. Why are you a Christian? In light of the sex abuse scandals. The domestic abuse problems or the limitations and flaws of the congregationalism model the EFCA uses. What about the scandals inside the Southern Baptists or the hostility to science or education which you can encounter in evangelicalism? Just this morning I read in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic that up to 90% of all atheists have or are getting the COVID vaccination. That compares with about 47% of white evangelicals. It begs the question in light of what Jesus taught who loves their neighbor and honors the Lord? The Christian or the atheist? This blog is inclined to say that atheists bring more honor to God than evangelicals here in the United States. I’m going to stop because I just wanted to encourage people to read Tom Nelson’s blog post at Christ Community Church. For all the difficulty, scandals and problems I write about this blog does have a lot of respect for both Tom Nelson and Christ Community Church. And I don’t say that often yet I look for opportunities to ay that in writing what sometimes is a dark blog. The original post is called, “Why Are You A Christian?“
A few years ago, Dr. Peter Berger, the preeminent sociologist of our time, came to Christ Community for a conversation about religious faith. After eloquently expressing the formidable plausibility challenges of faith in our late modern western world, Dr. Berger was asked if he considered himself a Christian and if so why? This more personal question seemed to take the towering intellect and prestigious academic by surprise. Dr. Berger paused for a moment, then pensively looked up and said, “I do consider myself a Christian.” Another thoughtful question emerged. “Dr. Berger, Why are you a Christian?” Dr. Berger then pointed out his belief that something occurred over 2000 years ago on Easter morning that cannot be explained away, something that had spoken hope into his life and to the world. For Dr. Berger, an empty tomb is what made all the difference.
As a faith community on Easter morning we once again peer into the empty tomb and hear the Gospel writers hope-filled words, “He is not here, He is risen!”
Do we grasp with heart and mind the massive significance of those words? As we prepare to celebrate Easter, let us be reminded that we are Christians because we truly believe there was an empty tomb. The Apostle Paul banked his entire life on the bedrock truth of Jesus‘ bodily resurrection. For Paul, the very crescendo of the Gospel was “the fact Christ has been raised from the dead….” (1 Corinthians 15:20) Peering into the empty tomb of our Lord and Savior who conquered death makes all the difference in our lives and our world. Not only does the empty tomb point to our own resurrection from the dead and a joy-filled eternity with our risen Lord, it also speaks loudly to the importance and meaning of the vocations of our present daily lives.
Writing to the local church at Corinth, Paul concludes his masterpiece chapter on the bodily resurrection with an exhortation of living the resurrection life in our daily work. Paul concludes, “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) As we prepare to celebrate the glorious good news of Easter, may our hearts be filled with a renewed hope that there is life beyond the grave, that as image bearers of the one true God, we are never ceasing spiritual beings with a grand eternal destiny in the New Heavens and New Earth. Let us also be reminded that our lives here and now in this small moment we call time, really matter. Peering into the empty tomb, may we hear and heed the words of the Apostle Paul encouraging us to live resurrection lives each and every day wherever God has called us to serve. Paul writes to the local church at Colossae, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24) Resurrection hope not only greets us at the grave, but also on Monday when we enter our paid and non-paid workplaces.