A couple of days ago, Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister of Odisha (in India), stated in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic that “Life will not be the same ever”! In today’s situation, keeping in mind even the wide-ranging repercussions posited by world leaders and chiefs of different international organizations, it’s a pretty grim statement from the head of a state. Life will not be the same ever! A few days before that, leading financial experts across the globe pointed out the hefty blow this pandemic has dealt to the whole movement of globalization as henceforth countries will tighten their borders, heavily restricting movement of people and goods, while trying to be increasingly self-sufficient. Life will not be the same ever! IMF warned the world that this pandemic will result in the worst economic crisis since the 1930s Great Depression. Life will not be the same ever!
This inadvertent ‘testimony’ is even more astounding considering the fact that it came from the opponents of the Gospel and the Church, who have the no reasons to testify as such.
To say something like this on a Friday approximately 2000 years ago would’ve made no sense to a motley group of people sitting huddled in a room, bereft of hope and hearts clouded with fear. They had just witnessed the person they followed for the past few years, in whom they placed their hope for a better future, suffer an excruciating death on the cross! At best, they would’ve hoped to go back to their old normal once the dust around the crucifixion settled, and the Jewish and Roman leaders forgot about them as a sect that once was. We see other groups in that period—as is evident from Gamaliel’s speech in Acts 5—rise to prominence, only for the followers to be scattered when their leaders were killed, imprisoned or exiled. But fast-forward a few years, and we see something inexplicable (by human reasoning) happening! In Acts 17:6, we read about the Jews opposing Paul and other believers referring to Christians as those “who have turned the world upside down”! This inadvertent ‘testimony’ is even more astounding considering the fact that it came from the opponents of the Gospel and the Church, who have no reason whatsoever to testify as such. What propelled a group of individuals, cowering in fear in a room, to such prominence in the first century? Even more significantly, the movement that began in an attic in the first century, spanned global reach in a short space of time and has influenced the world for over 2000 years! Apologists love to quote this argument to highlight that catalytic event which set these things in motion—the physical resurrection of Jesus!
That event resulted in a community, whose faith and conviction shaped the world as we see today, irrespective of how Post-Christian it is considered to be.
The importance of the resurrection of Jesus for the Church cannot be underscored more in a statement than what we find in Paul’s succinct one in 1 Corinthians 15:14- And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. For that small group hiding behind bolted doors, this historical event turned their world upside down, prompting them to do and say things that would be considered downright reckless and mindless (from a worldly perspective—Acts 17:32). It made Saul, a person bent on completely destroying the Church, say that he considers everything he has and was as rubbish and loss for the sake of “knowing Christ” and “the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3). It resulted in a small group of people spreading far and wide over the then known world to share the Gospel—the Gospel of a crucified and risen Messiah, the Saviour of the world! That event gave Church strength to face the most dreadful of persecutions for close to four centuries, and even after that. That event resulted in a community, whose faith and conviction shaped the world as we see today, irrespective of how Post-Christian it is considered to be. For them, the Church, life was and will not the same ever, because of the hope that comes from the uniqueness and magnitude of the event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
While the full scope of the historical and theological implications of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is beyond this article (or beyond any human work—written or otherwise—as Apostle John aptly points out), it’s an important historical event to ponder on this Resurrection Sunday, given the context around us. As leaders prepare for a vastly different world and future given the pandemic that rages around the world, let us remember- for that small group in the upper room, for the many who believe in Christ today and have believed in the past, and for us—life will not be the same ever! Not because of the health crisis or the economic woes or closing borders, but because of the historical fact of the Resurrection of Christ! Life will, indeed, never be the same ever!