In Minnesota, snow can feel evil. Like a flower that yearns to break through the snow, we should yearn to break free from the old order of things and live the Kingdom now. In this sermon, Greg walks us through what the Resurrection of Jesus means to our lives today.
For most in our culture, resurrection is associated with the vague idea of an afterlife. After a person dies, their soul immediately becomes disembodied and exists somewhere else. However, in the Jewish tradition, the predominant thinking was that resurrection was a corporate, embodied, instantaneous coming of God’s reign right here on Earth. It was the final culmination of history, and everyone would be there in bodily form.
The Messiah would one day come and deliver God’s reign to this Earth. The Jewish people were waiting for that day to come. The resurrection was the signal and evidence that the new age had begun. All the earliest Christians held this view, however, they had to come to terms with Jesus being resurrected as an individual.
There had been others raised from the dead, but they were different in that they merely prolonged death. Lazarus was raised, but he eventually died again. He was considered resuscitated, but not resurrected. Jesus was qualitatively different in his resurrection. He rose to a glorified body that was free from death forever. The early Christians understood this, and they therefore knew that in some way the beginning of God’s reign had come. Yet, the world didn’t change around them.
There was an “already, but not yet” understanding to the Kingdom of God in the early church. The Kingdom had already come, Jesus had been resurrected, and they were living in God’s reign. Yet, the world still had sin, oppression, violence, and seemingly was still under the curse of the Fall. This already, but not yet, understanding to the Kingdom led the Christians to one main conclusion: the time for waiting is over, and the time for living the future is now. Whereas the Jews kept waiting for the Messiah, the Christians started living, acting, and moving against the old order of darkness in the world.
This already, but not yet, is easy to understand in Minnesota. In the past month, we’ve had 70 degree weather, and we’ve had 25 degree weather. We’ve seen sunshine and shorts weather, and we’ve seen snow with our winter jackets. The winter is oppressive in April. We want Spring to desperately come, yet we had to wait and wait and wait. We see signs that Spring is coming, yet we exist in a snowy wonderland the next week.
It’s like the flower that Greg saw while walking his dog. This flower sprouted out of the snow, and even though it was surrounded by snow, it screamed that Spring should be here. It was the sign of the future even in present circumstances. This flower was saying that Spring was already here, but not quite yet.
We should live our lives like this flower. Instead of waiting for a future Kingdom, we live as if the Kingdom is here now. Even though evil and suffering oppress this Earth, we can becomes signs of the future. We can push through the evil and suffering, we can stand against it, and we can defiantly say that the Kingdom of God has arrived.
We do this by living our lives as Kingdom inhabitants. The future Kingdom will have no suffering, oppression, wars, gossip, or any signs of the old order of things. We live our lives against this old order. Our lives can stand as a testimony of what is to come, instead of hiding under the snow and waiting for the culmination of Spring to come. We grow, push, and expand ourselves until we break free of the old order. We pray against pain and suffering. We take care of the poor. We push against racism, sexism, and all the other isms of this world that oppress people. We live our lives in light of the resurrected Christ.
Jesus has risen, and he has ushered in God’s reign here on the Earth. The time for waiting is over, and the time for living has begun. The party starts here and now, with us living our lives as Kingdom people. We literally cannot wait for the Kingdom to come. There may be a cold winter around us, but we stand together as a defiant flowerbed.
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