Given the general drift of western civilization, there are some on our side who are feeling like Christianity is, well, in retreat. If you could wind your time turner back 40 years, nobody living at that time would have said that America would be in the process of honoring sodomy with its own special rite of marriage. Nobody would have predicted rates of divorce and illegitimacy where they are today. Jokes about mass confusion on Fathers’ Day used to be directed at other people, not us. Now we are the joke.
Struggling families can’t find a reason to stick it out. People give up and give over to their pet sins. People born, raised, and married in the church suddenly go secular, not out of any sense of offense or hostility, but because they just don’t care any more.
So why are you still plodding along with a crowd that seems to be losing so badly? Maybe it’s because you’re part of the gray-haired set that still does all that Churchianity stuff (including Wednesday night). Maybe it’s because America isn’t the only place in the world, and in some other places like China, Christianity is growing like mad. Maybe you stick around because you’re one of those fortunate folks still plugged into a dynamite church, and you really enjoy it.
Here’s a reason for you to ponder: You should keep the faith because Jesus is alive. The only real reason to get into Christianity in the first place, if I could say it like that, is because it is true. And the central truth of Christianity is that He rose from the dead. If He rose from the dead, there is every reason in the world to continue faithful regardless of what the rest of society does.
If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, there never was a reason to be a Christian. In the early days of Christianity, Paul said that if Christ has not risen, then “we of all men are most miserable.” Why suffer for a dead god? What sense does that make? We don’t suffer any serious persecution in America, so let’s apply the thought more accurately to us: why deny yourself the pleasures of a hedonistic life to honor the memory of a dead guy?
But if Jesus is alive, that changes everything. That would mean that He has power over death. It would mean He really is the Son of God. It would mean His church is destined to become the central focus of history. It would mean that following Jesus matters, not just to your kids or your person sense of stick-tuitiveness, or the moral tidiness of your little corner of the world, but it matters on the biggest and most cosmic scope imaginable.
And if Jesus is alive, it would mean that death is not the end of life that we all thought it was, but just a pause before we transition into something far greater He has prepared for us. It would mean that our ultimate conclusions about life stand upon a living hope. And hope is the thing that makes us keep on keeping on.
So I’m still a Christian because the tomb was emptied when Christ came out of it alive.