Sunday, 2 October 2011

It all amouts to this...

"For as, by a man, came death, by another man has come resurrection from death. As in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive" 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22.

I was recently on a beach in Cornwall, where I couldn't help but notice the multiple layers of strata in the cliffs, many of which were bent and twisted by, clearly, mammoth forces. It 'speaks' of a time of momentous change in our past, which is commonly defined today as part of the 'natural' ages of convulsion which have shaped and made our world since the beginning. The problem, of course, is if this is the whole picture, as naturalism claims, then Christianity really doesn't have anything to say. If such forces (entropy and decay especially) are what truly, comprehensively, define the nature of reality, then speaking about an answer to death - in fact, speaking about life of any kind having a real value - is truly a non-starter. Life becomes truly meaningless in the face of such comprehensive forces, so why should we even contemplate something other than something which is so overwhelming?
The answer is actually equally all around us - it's just takes a little more thought to unpack. Numerous thinkers have noted that there's enough going on in just the material universe to tell us that as devastating as these forces are, they do not amount to the sum total of reality... something more is really going on.

In the passage referred to above, Paul is arguing for something far more extraordinary than the popular approaches to our current estate. Death, he argues, is not a natural condition - it is a 'futility' that we experience because humanity has broken it's true connection with God. There was a time, right at the start of our history, when there was more than pain and suffering, cruelty and death, and because of what one person in the midst of our history, Jesus Christ, has done, there is another real moment approaching when all that we now deem 'natural' or 'normal' under the realm of death and decay will end.

These are truly staggering claims, and they revolutionise the very nature of our existence. The ramifications of what the Apostle and others seek to declare about three particular moments in time and space are profound. All that we think we know, we presently encounter and understand is but a prelude, an overture, to a far more substantial physical reality. The aim of life now, then, is to see the mystery, to ponder the miracle of what is coming about, and to love the one who is here to rescue us from the darkness and, once again, make us free to live.