What does it mean for us to be people of the resurrection?
From the start, the bodily resurrection of Jesus was seen by his followers as much more than just what happens to us after we die. It was, in a sense, a second creation. In raising Jesus from the dead, God demonstrated His intent to set the world aright and do for the entirety of creation what He had for His son.
This belief is why the Gospel of John begins with the words “in the beginning,” a reference to Genesis 1, and then prefaces its account of the resurrection with, “now on the first day of the week.” John wasn’t saying that our Lord rose on a Sunday (although He did)—John was emphasizing that the new creation had begun.
And we are to have an active role in that new creation. In his book, “Surprised By Hope,” N.T. Wright tells us that, as a result of Jesus’ resurrection and ours, “what you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it . . .” What we “do in the present,” whether it’s “painting,” “preaching,” “building hospitals,” “campaigning for justice,” caring for the needy” or simply “loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future.”
It’s all part of “[colonizing] earth with the life of heaven,” the divine project initiated at the resurrection of Jesus.
At the heart of this divine project is restoration: bringing peace to a broken world through works of grace, acts of justice, and words of truth.
It’s easy—too easy, in fact—to identify and decry all the ways the world is broken. And while identifying these ways is a part of our mission, it’s only so that we can then devote ourselves to repairing and restoring what sin has broken.
If you need an illustration, look no further than the work of Prison Fellowship. It’s difficult to imagine a more vivid example of brokenness than the impact of crime on all those concerned: offenders, victims, and society at large.
As Chuck Colson understood, left to itself the justice system would only exacerbate the injuries caused by crime. That’s why he founded Prison Fellowship and, later, Justice Fellowship. For us, “colonizing earth with the life of heaven” means restoring offenders and their families; that is, restoring (or helping them establish) their relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ; restoring them to their families and their communities.
It also means promoting policies that recognize the human dignity of offenders and victims while also creating safer communities and fairer, more cost-effective justice systems for all.
We do this because we understand that God did not send his Son to the cross and raise Him from the dead for our private benefit. He did it to make those of us who say “The Lord is Risen!” the light of the world.
The Mishnah, the early third-century compilation of Jewish tradition, uses the phrase “tikkun olam,” which means “repairing the world.”
That’s what it means to be the resurrection people, especially since in raising Jesus from the dead, God has guaranteed that our efforts will not be in vain.
Metaxas is currently the voice of Breakpoint, a radio commentary (www.breakpoint.org) that is broadcast on 400 stations with an audience of eight million.
Copyright© 2014 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.