By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
Nobody can deny that we live in a seriously troubled world.
2018 has so far seen increasing evidence on a daily basis; international terrorism, the murder of innocents, more ongoing and seemingly endless partisan political bickering than we’ve ever seen before, and so the list goes on.
What a depressing scenario! It’s no wonder that prior to his death convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy Mcveigh was reported to have told the authors of “American Terrorist,” (a book that chronicled McVeigh’s life story and related his story of the crime) that he was looking forward to his impending execution.
He explained why. Because “this world just doesn’t hold anything for me … I’ll be glad to leave this (expletive) world.”
Like McVeigh I also used to feel an overwhelming sense of futility about life in this world. As Billy Graham once said, I was suffering from “cosmic loneliness.”
However, a realization (resulting from a spiritual awakening over 40 years ago) that Jesus Christ had risen bodily from the grave and had conquered death, changed my whole life and replaced aimless futility and loneliness with a sense of hope, purpose and destiny.
It was my new found purpose in life that some years later was directly responsible for my founding Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter. The Lord had been so good to me that I felt obligated compelled to pass on the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to those who were physically homeless; many times spiritually and emotionally adrift and in desperate need of a reason to keep on living.
Sadly, in some parts of today’s troubled culture an unshakeable belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is thought of as being bigoted and exclusive and an outmoded system of thinking.
Yet such a belief could give some badly needed hope and encouragement to the Timothy McVeighs and other troubled individuals possibly waiting in the wings looking for a proverbial place to happen. The hope offered at this Easter season by Jesus Christ is the only sure way of helping them.
Those who dismiss the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus and neglect making Him the basis for their lives, end up (albeit unintentionally) mocking the very foundation upon which Easter is based. All they’re left with is the empty and unsatisfactory shell of the Christian gospel which is unable to provide that desperately needed hope we all crave.
Of course, for some people, this year’s Easter celebration will be all about eggs and bunnies. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as the central theme of Easter isn’t omitted. Sadly, many times it is.
Easter is about so much more than colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and a good meal. As Asbury Seminary New Testament Professor Ben Witherington once pointed out, the Resurrection, the real heart of Easter, is “not just a spiritual change in a person’s life; nor is it merely the blooming of flowers and trees when spring returns. The Resurrection is the bringing back from the dead of Jesus Christ in the flesh.”
Witherington told a sad but revealing story about standing outside a small English chapel on Easter Sunday morning. He was waiting to talk with a church official about the upcoming service at which he was scheduled to preach.
The man looked at Witherington and said he had to ask him a question. He said, “You do believe in the Resurrection, don’t you?” Witherington said, “Yes, absolutely, that’s what Easter is all about; it’s the heart of the Christian faith.”
The man responded, “I’m ever so relieved. The last chap who preached on Easter didn’t.”
The fact of the resurrection is the very heart and soul of Christianity; not some mythical sort of unquantifiable spiritual transformation, but a physical bodily resurrection. Christianity is the only major world religion where the bones of its founder are not lying in some tomb. That is why Biblical literalists get so excited about the Bible and proclaim that they have found the truth.
This upcoming Easter, I encourage you to take an honest look at the claims of Jesus Christ. You will not come away disappointed.
If you do know Jesus Christ personally and like to talk about your faith with others, please share His love in a kind and non condemning fashion both spiritually and physically with the homeless, hungry and needy this upcoming Easter season. As the old saying goes, “You may be the only gospel they’ll ever see.”