Does the Jesus in which you believe need to have died and risen? We know according to the Gospel narratives that Jesus did indeed die and rise from the dead. The question is does your theology dictate that these two things were necessary.
There is a saying I learned in my studies and that is “Everyone is a theologian”. By that I mean that everyone who identifies with being a Christian or those that don’t, all have some sort of ideas about God. We all have thoughts and ideas about who God is, who Jesus is, etc. Sometimes these ideas come from listening to your pastor and reading your Bible. Sometimes they come from books you’ve read, and sometimes these ideas come from your own experience. But whether atheist, Jew, Christian, Muslim, or whatever in between, you have ideas about God and what He is doing in this world.
Now back to the original question, if you have thoughts and ideas about who God is and who Jesus is, do these thoughts reflect the biblical narrative of him dying and rising? I find this to be a more and more important question as people travel from church to church, listen to preachers online and on TV, and interact with people of not only different traditions but also different religions.
Due to the multitude of influences and experiences, we often take in the ideas and thoughts we like and then disregard what we don’t like. We pick and choose the theology that sounds good to us. This might be ideas like “God loves everyone,” “Jesus wants me to be happy,” or “That isn’t really a sin anymore.”
As a pastor, I have noticed that often times these ideas come out of specific situations. Your child comes out as gay and so you have a theological crisis. You look for answers to the problem and hear a pastor or read a book about how the Bible isn’t clear about whether or not homosexuality is a sin. A friend who never goes to church and doesn’t like talking about religious stuff dies suddenly in a car accident. You wonder if God would really condemn your friend. You might read how God’s love always wins and no one is condemned.
Here is the problem with these solutions. These solutions don’t require the death of Jesus. If sin isn’t sin anymore or if there is no condemnation for those who don’t believe, why would Jesus die? If sin isn’t serious then why would God Himself die for it? If all will be saved regardless of faith, why does Jesus suffer such a horrible death so that we could have salvation?
What is happening is that the world is trying to convince us that the problems of long ago aren’t real problems anymore. “Sin is an antiquated notion. People don’t really believe in Hell anymore. Those were ancient ideas and we have made progress. We are smarter now. You are smarter now. Smart people think all this is made up anyway. Smart people know the truth and the truth is easy.” In our world there are no spiritual problems, only earthly ones.
The world continues to force us to look at the physical and the material. We are told to worry about the bills and the savings account. Worry about whether or not the kids are doing all the activities they want. Only worry about something if it is going to infringe on your little world. What they do in their free time is their choice.
Here is the crux of the issue. We all know the real problems are still problems. We know death is still a reality. We know that guilt and shame are present in our hearts and minds. We can try to convince ourselves of all of these new truths, but in our heart we know they are old lies. They are the same old lies people have been telling themselves in order to cope with their own sin and pending death.
So this is my encouragement to you this week. Evaluate your thoughts about God against this truth. Jesus died for the sins of the world and rose so that we would conquer death. If Jesus didn’t need to die for whatever you hear out in the world or even in your local pulpit double check it. If I’m being told about seven ways to make my life better and Jesus dying for me isn’t involved then you are getting material solutions to material problems. Your eyes have been taken off the real trouble and the real issue.
We all live in a broken world with broken people. These broken people deal with not only physical troubles but spiritual problems. Sin has broken them. Sin has broken you. Everyone is in need of a physician. Being told there isn’t a problem doesn’t help. Hearing the truth from the doctor is what is needed. Having the Great Physician bind your wounds and take away that which ails you is what is needed.
Both you and the world is in need of this message: Jesus of Nazareth died so that your sins would be forgiven. Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead so that you too might rise from the dead. Sin and death are the problem not just for you but for the world. The Christ has come and has begun to make new. He is working now on fixing these problems. He has called you to share this message and truth, not to carry on with the lies of the world. He was crucified and that matters. He is Risen and that matters. All good things, all right things, flow out of this truth.