Monday, April 9, 2007

The Mafia, the Resurrection and on Being Clueless

The Mafia, the Resurrection and on Being Clueless
Kevin Shrum

It is the day after Easter ‘07 and I am thinking of the word ‘clueless.’ According the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus (’04), the term means ‘to have no idea, to be ignorant, not have an inkling, to be baffled, mystified, at a loss, to not have the faintest/foggiest/slightest.’ Sadly, this is where most believers are when it comes to connecting the resurrection of Jesus Christ with life.

Let me explain. I recently told the precious congregation I pastor that if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not true then I quit; I will quit and become a member of the mafia. If it is not true then we are still in our sins, our preaching is foolish, our ministry is baseless and we are of all people most to be pitied (such radical ideas are not original with me – check out Paul’s thoughts on the substantive nature of the resurrection; see 1 Corinthians 15).

The reason I would join the mafia is that once you’re ‘in’ you have family (until you get knocked off), all the money you could desire, all the pleasures of life and a support group that will cover your back, of course, unless, you don’t cover theirs. But why the mafia if I quit the ministry? Because if the resurrection is not true then its' every man for himself, right? So my choice would be the mafia. Why? If the resurrection is not true, why not try to get all you can, as fast as you can, any way you can, for as long as you can, for the most personal gratification you can?

Here’s the deal. If the resurrection is not true, then the gospel is a hoax, Jesus is a liar and the Bible is a fable! If the resurrection is not true then not only is Jesus a liar, but there’s probably no God because redemption was God’s plan in the first place. And if there’s no God then why not eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we will die (the biblical version of a mafia motto).

I mean every word that I just wrote and that you just read. If the ‘Jesus thing’ is a lie, then the current crop of atheists, i.e., Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett, are right – God does not exist – we’re on our own. And left to my own devices…you get the picture.

But I love 1 Corinthians 15:20, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…” If the resurrection is true, and it is, our preaching, teaching, ministering and kingdom endeavors are not in vain. The resurrection is why I am committed to my wife, my children and to God’s call on my life. It is the very basis of my life in Christ. He alone died a substitutionary death so that I might have life in and through Him because of His subsequent resurrection.

Yet, this is where the word ‘clueless’ comes into play. I don’t believe that most Christians make the connection between the truth and power of the resurrection and the stuff of life. Why do I say this? Because every time I bring up the ‘mafia thing’ they will say, ‘Oh, brother Kevin, stop using such crazy ideas. You don’t mean it.’ YES I DO! You’re the one who doesn’t get it! The resurrection is the only power that can hold at bay my natural inclination toward evil and self-destruction. Thank God He is continually mashing my sinful will through Jesus’ resurrection power. Technically and biblically, I believed it’s referred to as being crucified with Christ so that I might be raised from the dead.

The resurrection is not an add-on, a cosmic afterthought or God’s ‘Plan B.’ It’s not an incidental, accidental part of the deal – it is the deal! This is why Paul writes in Philippians 3:10-11, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming like Him in death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Because He lives I’m forgiven, I love my wife, I attempt to raise my children differently, I share the Word and I remain faithful to the faith once for all delivered and entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). So, you never thought I could connect the terms, resurrection, mafia and clueless? Think again!

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