When I was in seminary, I read a book that had a deep and profound impact on me. Well, two really cause I did read the Bible. But the book I'm talking about was a novel.
I typically will not read "Christian" fiction. I haven't found too many overtly Christian novels stimulating. But this one was very engaging. I began reading it one morning and only got of the couch to go to the bathroom and to walk down to the corner store for something to eat. I finished it in 10 hours. It was an exciting and very addictive read. The book is A Skeleton In God's Closet by Paul L. Maier.
The premise of the book is the discovery of solid proof that Jesus was not resurrected but stayed dead. It also explores the reaction to the discovery. And also how the man responsible for the discovery handles the consequences.
I picked the book up off the shelf again this week. It's going to be my weekend read. I like reading it around Easter. But the book puts forward a very important question for reader and believers. What would it take to destroy your faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Over the last few years there have been "discoveries" that have attempted to shed light on the person of Jesus. Was he a historical person? Were his miracles just that? What did he look like? What about different gospels about the life of Jesus? Was Jesus married and have children? What about a tomb with evidence pointing to the biblical family of Jesus?
In each case Christians have jumped in front of cameras and reporters to offer how these things could not possibly be credible. They have argued that these things have to be false. Sometimes the responses have been so over the top that I am embarrassed by them.
But some feel that they have to fight to prove these theories wrong as if the entire life of the church was threatened. If that is the case, then it won't take much to destroy the church.
In truth, I believe that most people's faith is more easily threatened than they will admit. For some it may be a tragic death of a loved one they cannot recover from. It may be a good, strong argument against something they believe in. Maybe they just get tired of being a Christian. But most of all it comes down to one thing: their faith has not been nurtured, tended, or exercised.
Lisa just put out some plants in front of the house.
And this weekend (Easter) we are expecting freezing temperatures.
Now, those little plants' roots aren't very deep. They have not had to face anything more challenging than whether or not they were going to be put on the clearance rack at Lowe's. This weekend is going to be a challenge for them. But the test will prove if they are hearty enough to make it. If not, well, there's always more on the clearance rack.
For those whose faith is no more than a convenience or tradition, that faith will not last through the tough times nor through challenges. Being a life-long member of a church will not substitute for a living, dynamic, growing faith in Jesus Christ.
This Easter we will celebrate again the resurrection of Jesus Christ and remember an empty tomb. Next year we will celebrate again that same thing. And the year after. And I will bet that next year or the year after someone will have a new discovery that will attempt to shed light on the Jesus story. But each and every day between now and then is an opportunity to discover a deeper life in Jesus Christ and relationship with Him.
He is alive! Amen!