I remember one of those special theological lecture series in seminary. We had just heard the featured presentation by a highly respected scholar from another institution. The lecturer reported on his recent research that was obviously quite extensive and detailed. Then one of our seminary faculty, Elizabeth Bettenhausen, was to make the customary response to the lecture and help us move the conversation along. I remember her response. She at first simply stood and said, "So what?"
Since that day, "So what?" has been a favorite question of mine. It is a question of meaning, application and consequence. And it's a good question for the church.
We have joyfully proclaimed in these days of Easter, "Christ is Risen!" And I see in the Scriptures, the church trying to ask and answer the question, "So what?" Of course this is of our utmost importance. But what does it mean that "Christ is Risen" from the dead?
Look at the Scriptures and you see what it means. It means that Christ still meets us on the road in the middle of our griefs and disappointments, and opens the Scriptures to us and is with us in the breaking of bread (Luke 24:13-25). It means that we are a people of an imperishable hope and inheritance of salvation (I Peter 1:3,4). It means that we are sent to be people of a loving power that still sets people free (John 20:21-23). It means that we are witnesses (Acts 2:32). It means that the work of God in Christ is not stopped by death.
We need to ask, "So what does this mean for us in 2002? What does it mean as we anguish over the tragic history and violence between Palestinians and Israelis, or the turmoil in Afghanistan? What does it mean as we face our personal conflicts of job losses or illness or relationship? So what? For whom? And where?"
"Christ is Risen!" is a divinely revealed and authoritative statement of hope, power, love and life for us in these situations. And we, who are witness to this resurrection, are the very people called to believe, and to be the spirit-empowered followers and instruments of hope, and love and peace, and no tomb, no injustice, no wrong can defeat.
Resurrection clearly means that we do not need to give up on the good things of God. We have a living vision of how God desires life to be. In the death and resurrection of Christ we see that there is always a "Saving Possibility" for each of us personally, and for this troubled world.
"Christ is Risen!" Now ask, "So what will I believe and do?"
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.