“Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” Acts 23: 6
One Sunday morning, I was talking with a group of older men in a small rural congregation. From the window of the fellowship hall, we looked across the street at the local cafe. It was bustling with life as young families came in and out of the restaurant. It was obvious from their attire, they were not attending church today.
A man in the group pointed at the cafe and said, “See, there’s our problem.” The problem was not the competition of the diner. It was the people. Many of them had grown up in the congregation, but they preferred eggs over worship. He knew the young men walking into the restaurant and enjoyed their company. Yet, when he talked to them about coming to church they responded, “Why? What’s the point? When you die you just take a dirt nap.” His heart was broken by their rejection of the resurrection.
Then he started talking about something deeper. A couple years earlier he had suffered a heart attack. Unlike the comforting near death stories many people share, his was different. He experienced what the Gospel of Matthew would call, “The weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Tears formed in his eyes and I could tell he was still visibly shaken by it. As he continued speaking, he talked about how hard he had been on people in the church as a younger man. It was reasonable to think his hard heartedness probably chased most of those young men away.
I talked to him about the opportunity to live differently and reminded him of the simplicity of saying, “Lord, help me, a sinner.” But, I don’t think that was his issue. His greater burden was those young men, the ones whom he taught as children. The ones who did not believe in the resurrection. In his mind, he had chased them away from that belief. Now, after his encounter, he didn’t know how to convince them of its importance.
In today’s reading we are reminded, the hope of the resurrection has been dividing people for a very long time. I’m convinced there are people who will never grasp the possibility of a resurrection. This does not prevent them from eternal life, but it is harder for them to discover the hope of it. There are many people who believe in it, but those who choose to live into the hope of the resurrection truly discover joy.
Click to read: Acts 23: 6-11
- What does the hope of the resurrection mean to you?
- How does it affect the way you live?
- What’s the difference between believing in and living in the hope of the resurrection?
- How can we speak authentically to others about this hope?
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