Summary: Waking the Dead, part 2. Dave points out that without a risen Christ the universe doesn’t make sense; that without a risen Christ, evil wins; and without a risen Christ, we are left with insufficient means to account for the reality and depth of the huma
If Jesus Is Dead
Waking the Dead, part 1
Wildwind Community Church
April 18, 2009
I got a startling email from a friend of mine not long ago. None of you would know this person, and that’s why I’m going to share this. Still I’m going to change his name and call him Tom. Before I read to you a portion of this email, I want to give you a little background. Tom was raised in the church, as was I. Like me, Tom grew up asking a lot of questions, and doubting a lot of what he was told at various times. Like me, Tom is still hungry for truth and asking hard questions. Like me, Tom went through a crisis of faith where he questioned everything he had grown up believing, and shuffled off most of it. Unlike me, Tom never returned to God. Whereas my questions and my journey ultimately led me back to God, Tom’s – for now – have led him away.
Now I want to read you a snippet of this email Tom sent me a while back. He and I were trying to wrestle honestly with what it means to believe what we believe. I had shared some things with him about what it means to choose to believe in God, and he was working through some of what it means not to. Before I read, please realize how precious it is to find someone willing to be honest about the implications of what they believe, especially when they lead to where Tom’s beliefs have led him. Tom is that rare individual willing to take faith seriously, even though right now he can’t find a way to appropriate it for himself. My hope tonight is to treat his words and struggles with respect, and to not take them out of context. But I want to open a window for you on his concerns because in this snippet he addresses the question, What if there’s no God. What if all this is just something people made up? What if Jesus isn’t raised but still rotting in the ground somewhere? Well, what if? Here’s what he wrote to me. He writes:
I have personally struggled with the extremes of the meaningless of life on one end and "if this is all there is then I need to really grab hold" on the other - which is as you say exactly what happens when someone gets to a place where I am. I have read and read and read...philosophy, science, Bible, (also Lee Strobel’s books)....and I’m not confident in my assertion that God is not personal… if people like me (who have serious doubts about the book of Genesis) think that there was no original sin and no chosen people (Israelites) where the Messiah would arise then it leads to substantial doubts about the divinity of Jesus...and the need for Jesus. And then when someone like me starts to think that while Jesus was a good man but not the Son of God...well, it’s a slippery path to start questioning and doubting everything....eternity, etc. And I think you are exactly right...mankind is aware of our impending death and yet we all seem to have this inkling that there must be something more.
Again, I really enjoyed your responses...and appreciate the time you took to reply....if I really want to make my head explode I will contemplate whether it was a coincidence that I was able to get into a discussion thread with you and that thread discussed the nature of God…or if it was something beyond coincidence which is what my friend [who is] an associate pastor…said would happen when I told him that I no longer believed in a personal God last year.
Another email in that same conversation, Tom told me “I don’t know what to tell my children about why they are here.” Now there’s some honesty for you.
What is the Christian’s story? Daddy, why am I here? The Christian can say to their children, “Because God created you. God knew you before time began. Once upon a time, God knit you together inside of your mommy. God knows everything about you and takes joy in the fact that you are alive and that you are mine.” I can say to my teenagers, “Don’t forget who you are, girls. You are far more than you seem! You are a divinely created spiritual being, with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe. You are never going to die – not ever. You are immortal.”
What is the atheist’s story, if he were to just blurt it out honestly? Daddy, why am I here? “Well sweetheart, you are an accident. Not just an accident between me and your mom – I mean an accident in every sense of the word. There is no meaning to your life, except for the love you bring to your mom and me and your siblings and friends. You, and me, and your mommy are all random collections of atoms and molecules. One day I will die and you will never see me again. And then one day you will die too, and that will be the end of you.”