The challenge of the Resurrection
John Myhill challenges us to renew our spiritual link to God as we come to terms with the enormity of His resurrection.
When I first arrived in England from Hong Kong in 1954, I was surprised by many things: there was no rationing in Hong Kong, bananas grew at the end of our garden, there was a different non-decimal currency, children played different games. In England no-one seemed to have servants, which I had taken for granted in Hong Kong. Most difficult was that most people here appeared to be white, yet unaware that most of the world’s people are not white.
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The children I found myself with had no sense of the hugeness of planet earth, and the variety of its cultures, smells and sounds. There was no excitement about stories of daring, heroism and Empire. London felt parochial, polluted (smog) and poor (bomb damage, lack of fruit, clothes etc.).
Arriving in Norfolk, however, I felt at home, comfortable, and welcome.
Now, consider the shock to the disciples of the crucifixion and then the resurrection. They had been following and listening to Jesus for three years, but they had not fully comprehended the enormity of his teaching.
They had become used to travelling the countryside, listening to his parables, receiving special training, witnessing his healing of others, and even being sent out to do likewise themselves. But how were they to understand the execution of their pacifist leader by the Roman state? “It is expedient that one man should die for the people.” (John 11:50) How could the huge stone over his tomb be moved? “If you have faith you can move mountains”(Matthew 17:20).
Had they been asleep, like Lazarus? Was there no-one who could not be raised from this state of spiritual deadness, this lack of understanding? It is up to us to show in our lives that we are changed, that we are awake, reborn. After this experience, they know that there is no death, only “taking up into heaven” (2 Kings 2) (Acts 1:9).
Jesus says to the disciples: “Blessed are they who believe who have not seen” (John 20:29) knowing just how hard that can be in a modern secular state. Faith makes all his teachings possible.
For Christians living in England today, life can be very similar to my experience on arriving from Hong Kong. We live in a country that is theoretically rooted in Christianity, but we are surrounded by people who know nothing of the love of God, or the promise of forgiveness through Jesus. A country where charity is rationed, but Christians following Jesus teaching of service to others. Where the currency is material rather than “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). Where children are in touch with a box in their hand, but unaware of their direct spiritual link to God. Where our fellow Christians are most often not white.
Those without experience of Jesus have lost touch with the planet, have lost their sense of daring, heroism and the Empire of Love. Where even some Christians have no enthusiasm for “Blessed are you when people make fun of you and hurt you because of me.” (Matthew 5:11).
London feels parochial (out of touch with God), polluted (by sin), and poor spiritually. Hopefully in Norfolk, we can continue to “do different”.
John Myhill is a Norwich Quaker, retired magistrate and author. His blog is at http://johnmyhill.wordpress.com/
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