Monday, 12 April 2010

Easter Musings

One of the terrific things about Eastertide is a reminder of the inherent transitoriness of evil and ill and entropy in all their forms. As we focus on the Resurrection, fixing our eyes on the Firstborn from the Dead, all ills around us are put into perspective.

A death, an acquaintance's terminal illness or the growing awareness that certain people in one's life, even if in good health now, are of such an age as to have before them only a couple more years at most; the knowledge that man is mortal and that decay is inherent in our present nature..... but for more than 24 hours Christ was a corpse, and now He is still alive 2000 years later. The tomb is still there and still empty.

Likewise, I find myself still plagued by vices and faults. Occasionally, I might manage the superhuman feat of not resenting a person for bruising my ego by implying I'm not perfect. Or, conversely, I might plunge myself into resignation and self-loathing when my weaknesses become undeniable, declaring to God that He ought to just give up because, clearly, the whole sanctification thing still isn't working..... but Christ, having borne up under the sins of the world, submitting to the greatest crime humanity ever perpetrated - deicide - did not end as victim but as victor. The crime did not go on to breed vengeance, retribution, further injustice as we are used to crimes doing. It was swallowed up by love and instead brought forth life. God has caused the greatest evil to become the wellspring for the malicious and wretched human creatures of the very life of God. If He can do that, do I really think Him impotent before my own petty sins?

Infectious goodness is available. God is strong enough to cast the darkness from within me, strong enough to render the human race hale and whole once more, to put joy in place of despair and love in place of ego, strong enough to heal the whole universe of its slide into chaos and entropy. He has conquered in His own person wrong and imperfection, death and decay. There is a new kind of man in the universe. The human condition that presses itself upon my experience is not necessary or inevitable. It is transient. It is provisional. Glory and beauty and goodness and life and love are inevitable. The rest are on their way out. Ineluctably, though perhaps for the moment imperceptibly, they have begun to fade.

Sin and death are mysteries. They don't fit the universe and, throughout history, we have never had anything with which to fight them. So we resigned ourselves to them and told ourselves they were normal by saying things like, "Well, I'm only human," or "Death is just a part of life." But look now upon the Risen Christ. Here is the true 'only human', really human and no imperfection, character flaw, fault or vice has any part in Him. Here is true life, the truly Living and death has no more power over Him. Now we know that sin and death have an end. They are foreign to the universe and will be expelled. For the moment, I may fall under the burden of my weaknesses and vices. One day I will cease to breathe and become lifeless. But none of these things defines me. It is the Risen Christ Who defines me. The day is coming when what is true of Him will be true of all things, for all things await the blessed subjugation that He brings, a subjugation that is in fact a liberation from every imperfection, even those we despair of being freed from, even those we've persuaded ourselves are natural, even those we've persuaded ourselves are desirable.

Christos anesti! Alithos anesti! Alleluia. Come, Lord Jesus.


Anonymous said...

You make it sound as if all anyone has to do for their vices or death is wait for Christ to wave around a magic wand to make it dissapear.

Matthias said...

No wand anon,just the finished work of Christ on the Cross and our repenting of our sins and taking Christ at His Word-that He died for our sins and we trust in Him.
No wand,no spell
Trust in the Finished work of Christ
that's defeated death and Hell

Anonymous said...

Wand or not, okay trusting in Jesus is good and all, but wouldn't it be better if epople tried looking at their vices, question them and try to fix them, rather than wait for Jesus to fix?

Death too; if you have health problem you to a Doctor to go and help fix the problem you don't just sit and die because the afterlife is waiting. Vices are the same.

GAB said...

But we can't fix them on our own. The more vices I fix, the more I find. For a moment, I manage to clear away the haze of lust, pull myself away from the seduction of trivial entertainments, pierce through the thick curtain of laziness and I suddenly discover for the first time (what everybody else knew but me) that I'm actually an arrogant know-it-all. If, after years of effort, I manage to put a dent in that particular vice, before I know it, pride at my moral achievement overtakes me. The disease is endemic. It needs a cure.

Doctors, likewise, are ultimately only a stall. Sooner or later everybody dies, whether they stoically sit and wait for it or fight tooth and nail to avoid it.

I'm not putting forward some kind of cheap grace, a panacea or an escapist fantasy. The Resurrection is preceded by the cross, and the cross is no easy solution to an ephemeral problem. It is a desperate solution to a problem that is utterly intractable.

In our bones we know this. We can't save ourselves. For God to intervene like He did is indicative of how far gone we are. What has been done on our behalf couldn't have been costlier. And if we are to avail ourselves of it, the cost must be ours as well. That means we have to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. That means we have to be serious about examining our consciences and practicing self-denial. But we don't do that stuff as though we can make ourselves perfect on our own. We do it to imitate Christ and let His life and grace begin to take root in us. And He's perfectly happy to pay the person who arrived 5 minutes before the end of the shift the same as the person who started a half-hour early.

None of our moral or medical struggles is pointless. But they ought to have something more than themselves in view. The Resurrection is a true victory. The day will come when evil will be but a bad memory and every single person who has ever died will have their bodies restored to them. If the effects of Christ's Resurrection don't seem as widespread at present as we would like them to be, by faith we believe it will not always be so. During Eastertide, we can dwell on that fact with joy, knowing that the game is worth the candle and that none of our struggles, difficulties or failures is in vain. Christ has redeemed them all.

Anonymous said...

No, no-one is perfect, and no-one expects the other to be. We all wait for Judgement Day for Jesus to fix everything, but in the meantime what we all try to do is do the best that we can.

If vices were a disease, it would be a chronic one. And if you were to go to the doctor what does the doctor do? He tests, he analyses, he finds out the cause, the best medication and if that goes wrong he tries to find out why, and the patient is supposed to keep at it.

Once again no-one is perfect and there's little point in fussing over something minor done like a night out gambling for fun or sneaking off with that slice of pie, we're all human, and placing too much restrictions over minor things like this tend to do more harm than good.

But if it is a major problem like hurting someone and you can't get over it on your own, then go see a counsellor that's what they're there for.