Vol 1:10 God’s Mission and the Resurrection

Not only did God in Christ make a public spectacle of the principalities and powers (the powers that bind and enslave humanity) on the cross (cf. Colossians 2: 15) revealing their true nature and intent towards humanity, but Jesus Christ also conquered all the powers of sin and death that imprison humanity through his resurrection.

Some have expressed that the resurrection of Christ is mere metaphor – the historical Jesus came and revealed the reality of God through his life and ministry, but he remains in the grave. Who has been resurrected is the Christ of the church – whose teachings and example we follow seeking to honor God in our lives.

In response I would ask: Is evil a metaphor? Is oppression a metaphor? Is illness and disease a metaphor? Is humanity’s warring with one another a metaphor? Is all that is broken in humanity a metaphor? Is death a metaphor?

Those things are pretty real to me and I am suspect for all of us as well. Yet, if the resurrection is merely a metaphor, then we do have little to believe in or hope in because death still reigns – the life that is God has not overcome death. War and strife still reign because the peace of God in Christ is no where present in this world. Oppression still reigns because the freedom that Christ embodied remains in the grave. As human beings, we are all still enslaved and held prisoner to all that binds us and holds us captive to death.

Such a perspective of resurrection as metaphor perplexes me because I cannot fathom then how we as the people of God expect to overcome the powers of sin and death in our world if God in Christ was defeated by what he came to vanquish. We would indeed be a hopeless people, hoping in freedom for humanity, when in reality God, whose mission is to make all things new, to re-create humanity, and to set people free from sin and death, has been defeated.

Paul, in talking about the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 declares: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep [died] in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all others.”

The resurrection is not a quaint belief of conservative Christians; the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the center point of all human history; the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the one event in human history that alone enables humanity to be set free. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the culmination of God’s missional activity of restoring humanity and all creation to thrive under the rule of life, rather than being imprisoned by the rule of death.

And in Christ, in identifying ourselves with Christ, in offering ourselves to Christ (who is God incarnate for all humanity – not just the god of Christianity), we submit ourselves to be ruled by the One who is Life. And in so doing we are empowered – empowered with life – to not only live in peace and harmony with God, but to live in peace and harmony with all creation. And more than this. We are re-created and called by God to participate with God in bringing about restoration, peace, and harmony in making all creation new. The success of the outcome of this mission has already been accomplished through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That is indeed the good news of God for all humanity, which Paul reiterates in proclaiming the new reality of life lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ – “If we have been united with Christ in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin [a life under the rule of death] might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God” (Romans 6: 5-10).

God’s mission of restoring humanity and all creation to life was accomplished through God in Christ being raised from the dead. Christ raised is the conquering of sin and death; Christ raised is the conquering of all the powers that purpose to imprison all creation; Christ raised is the outpouring of the Life that is God upon all human lives, all human relationships, and all creation. As human beings seeking life, let us be open to the Life that is God offered to us by Jesus Christ. This is indeed a reality that really changes everything!

iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl