“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV).
The death and resurrection of Jesus is not a story told to teach us something. It is not a fable or wishful thinking. It is not about a good person who was unfairly murdered by the leaders of that day for telling truth that condemned them. It is not a story about someone who is an example we should follow in order to please God. It is not the story of a prophet who lived a good life and pointed us to the truth. It is not about a heavenly being who came to show us that we too could rise above the evil and pain of this life to attain salvation. It is not even a story about God coming in the form of a man to live a perfect life and die for us in order to compensate for our shortcomings.
No, the death and resurrection of Jesus is so much more that all of these misconceptions. In fact, it is something far greater than anything that has ever happened or ever will happen in time or eternity. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the pivotal moment upon which everything else in all of history hinges. This event overshadows history itself. This event is so singular and explosive that all eternity is intimately involved in it. Nothing in the universe is untouched by it and nothing makes sense without it. It is truly the answer to every question about existence and meaning. It weaves purpose into life and death, suffering and happiness, pain and joy. It is the event that reversed all things for time and eternity. It brings joy from suffering, life from death. It brings new life to a broken, dead, hopeless race of beings facing only eternal suffering apart from the only One who is Good and Perfect.
That is why our pastors spend so much time and effort focusing on the cross. There is nothing else to preach and teach about unless the cross and resurrection are the foundation. In each article that I write for Faith & Fellowship, where I encourage us to give in a generous and sacrificial way, the cross and resurrection are always in my thinking (and I hope in the words I use to express myself). The message of stewardship makes absolutely no sense at all unless it is preceded in our personal experience by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
So I ask you once again to consider the opportunity before us all to provide the means by which Christ’s death and resurrection are made known to those who are still a part of that hopeless race from which we have been raised to life. May we this Easter season be reckless in our giving! May we see the insignificance of even our own financial security apart from this pivot point in history. Let us give as if lives depend upon it…because they do!
Roy Heggland is Associate for Biblical Stewardship for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.