It seems rather strange to me that the theological language most commonly used in the political arena rarely invokes what Christians both mourn and celebrate as a moment of singular and utmost importance. Words like justice, love, peace, redemption, phrases like the common good, the kingdom of heaven, and verses like Micah’s call to do justice are ubiquitous amongst the cannon of progressive Christian language. However, when I look to Christ, all these things are eclipsed in the shadow of crucifixion and resurrection. What have we but these two absolutes that frame, focus, and infuse with ontological weight the message of Jesus in a reality where things like justice and the common good are but relative terms?
Good Friday and Easter come and go, and we work tirelessly the rest of the year to try and do some good in this world. Yet, I feel there is some great offense undertaken at the annual, all too habitual, memorializing of these things. In the wake left behind by something so seminal, the Monday morning after should never be a Monday-morning-after. Perhaps the post-resurrection life is inhibited or made into something banal, forgettable, when the resurrection is thought of as being one singular historical moment. Or maybe it happens when our main conception of resurrection has to do with the physical raising up of dead bodies. But neither of these things encompasses the essence of resurrection, and in fact, we are better off changing our mindsets and vocabulary to remove the post from post-resurrection; for there is only the first resurrection, the prototypical resurrection, and not the one and only resurrection. Resurrection is in fact happening, has been happening, and will be happening all around us until time itself ceases to be a category of our cognition. And if we look back to the crucifixion for a second, we will see that boundless, interminable resurrection is necessary, because crucifixion is happening with the same relentless constancy.
The crucifixion: the moment during which Christ allowed the sin of the world to act upon him with all its force; the moment when sin won, if but for a moment, and the universe’s separation from its creator culminated in the murder of the Son of God. In that which tears apart subject from subject, human from human, human from world, and human from God, and encompasses all things individual and corporate, personal and political, we see sin on the cross. The continuous crucifixion, the power of sin, can be easily grasped by simply looking around. It is happening in the dark places of the world where people live in pain and suffering at the hands of oppressive rulers and systems. It is happening in the racism, homophobia, and xenophobia that infect our society. It is happening in political debates and rallies held in the name of God and grounded not in love but hatred. It is happening in the self-hatred we experience for not living up to a worldly standard whose values are not God’s. It is happening in the destruction of our natural world. It is happening in the corruption of our political, financial, educational, medical, and judicial systems. When we look at the cross where Jesus hung, we need only to also look at the world around us to know that the sin that put him there is still here today.
So let it be known that when you work to correct systems that cause poverty and deny human rights to all citizens regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, there is resurrection there. When you look at the face of an undocumented worker and see not crime but life, there is resurrection there. When the drug user is no longer a statistic, but a person who needs grace, there is resurrection there. When we come together to actually care, move in humility, and be a force for change, what can that be but resurrection?
The resurrection is a sign that sin can be, and is subordinate before that which is divine. Each of these moments I have described is an instance where sin is overcome by something greater and more powerful. Resurrection is God’s way of saying, “The wages of sin is death, but I am going to show you that in Me, death is not the final word.” The resurrection gives me the will to believe that my own and the world’s resurrection is possible. The empty tomb shows us that the efforts we make to change ourselves and the things around us are not for naught, but God willing, will be part of that resurrection as well. There is resurrection on Easter, on that next Monday, today, and tomorrow as well. It sounds crazy sometimes, but I put my hope in that more than anything else, and it is what makes justice, love, peace, compassion, and equality something more than an eschatological dream.
So let us go forth into the world to breathe resurrection into the places still ruled by the power of sin. Easter comes and goes, but it is not a birthday party, or a New Year’s celebration that ends until the next one arrives. No, Easter is something continuous, something everyday. Take that to heart, and be assured that because He lives, we can live too.