The resurrection of Christ is not the easiest thing to believe. The resurrection of the righteous that those in Christ anticipate, or should, isn’t so easy to believe either. Trusting in the history of the resurrection of Christ is important but recognizing the jaw dropping beauty of what it all means is just as important. If we contemplate the beauty of the resurrection, both Christ’s and ours, we might find ourselves digging a bit deeper.
To see Christ as God and man is probably no more difficult today than it has always been, even if today there seem to be more reasons to doubt. For you it may be a matter of not being able to accept what you call a suspension of the laws of the flesh and the physical, but for my part I think that when I know what the laws of the flesh and the physical really are, then I will know what God is. We know them as we see them, not as God sees them. For me it is the virgin birth, the Incarnation, the resurrection which are the true laws of the flesh and the physical. Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of these laws. I am always astonished at the emphasis the Church puts on the body. It is not the soul she says that will rise but the body, glorified. I have always thought that purity was the most mysterious of the virtues, but it occurs to me that it would never have entered the human consciousness to conceive of purity if we were not to look forward to a resurrection of the body, which will be flesh and spirit united in peace, in the way they were in Christ. The resurrection of Christ seems the high point in the law of nature… - The Habit of Being, pg. 100
Some of the blogs I follow have appointed specific days for specific posts. One blog has “Moltman Mondays” another has “Fridays with Benedict” and another one reserves Mondays as the day for sharing their confessions. Inspired both by their creativity and their consistency I’m happy to announce: Fridays with Flannery.
Most days you’ll be seeing a quote from her letters, collected in The Habit of Being, or some of her other non-fiction. On occasion I may share a bit of her fiction but I want to be careful not to spoil any of it by quoting it out of it’s natural habitat.
“I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child’s faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do.
What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can’t believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God. ”
She squeezes the sentimentality out of faith while so many can’t bear faith without sentimentality. It’s hard to imagine a more timely or weighty voice.
Moltmann speaks about suffering, prayer, and faith in Nazi Germany and in the post-modern world.
He points out that the people who usually ask the infamous question: “How can God be both good and powerful when he allows such suffering?” are not those who suffer themselves but the onlookers of someone else’s suffering. When one suffers they are not asking God “why?” as much as they ask “where are you?”
Third Way Magazine’s interview with Jürgen Moltmann
Many of us think God is up in heaven chewing antacids just to keep himself from getting sickabout our sin. – pg. 85
It’s easy to think that the wrath of God is something that God essentially is rather than something that God has. God’s wrath is against sin, evil and injustice. It is something that God rightly possesses and sometimes expresses. However, it is not an attribute of God. Love, holiness and beauty are descriptions of God’s nature. In contrast, wrath is something God does not something he is. It is an attitude God directs toward that which is harmful to his creation and destructive to his people.
Wrath is not God’s disposition toward us; wrath is God’s arrangement regarding sin.
God is love. God’s disposition toward us is, and forever remains, love. If we reject that love and go our own way we feel a void that we will try to fill with the pleasures of sin. - pg. 86
James Bryan Smith reminds us well that the wrath of God is not an antiquated relic of ”old time religion”; nor is it the parodied picture of an enraged God ready to explode. It is God’s powerful and effective ”arrangement regarding sin”, his way of dealing with that which destroys.
This week engage in whatever soul-training exercises nourish your spirit, but do so with an attitude of gratitude–for these practices that connect you to God but also that God, in his grace, is sustaining you. – pg. 52, Hidden in Christ, James Bryan Smith
Jim’s recommendation for this week is simple but profound. Take whatever it is that helps you connect with God. Do it. Thank God for both that spiritual exercise and God’s provision through it.
Gratitude is a discipline and one that is easily overlooked as we reach for more. Perhaps thanking God for the means of grace (those profound and sometimes small ways he reaches us) will generate even more opportunities to spend time in the presence of God.
“I’m still discovering, right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison
“For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:3
“My little children, for whom I am in the pains of childbirth, until Christ is formed in you.” – Galatians 4:19
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” – Galatians 2:20
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” – Ephesians 2:6
In is a powerful little word. James Bryan Smith reveals the power of this little preposition in chapter 5, “Hidden”. When the Apostle Paul speaks of our relationship with Christ he uses this little word often and applying it in different ways. Sometimes Paul says that we are in Christ and other times he means that Christ is in us. Which is it? Jim describes a how matrushka (Russian nesting doll) enabled him to see this concept concretely.
In one of the beautiful paradoxes of our Christian lives we are both in Christ and Christ is in us. There is mutual indwelling between Christ and his disciple. In chapter 5 however, Jim focuses upon how we are in Christ. He challenges us to practice the “reality therapy” of reminding ourselves that our “life is hidden with Christ in God.” One cannot plumb the depths of all that this means. Yet, we can rest assured that Christ has us. We are safely “hidden” in the very life of God and invited to draw upon an unquenchable well of God’s goodness and strength.
“My life is hidden with Christ in God. Indeed.”