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How the Resurrection Changes Everything — An Excerpt from "Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection"

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9780310517351 (1)Zondervan Academic recently released a book ideal for people struggling with faith and doubt, Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection. Authors Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson don’t shy away from the hard questions or settle for easy answers. They help people see how the resurrection changes everything, offering hope for the future and answers to the life and death questions we all have.

Central to their method of doubt-engagement is the argument that the resurrection changes everything. While they contend "Doubt is normal—even good," they go on to argue, "at some point you've got to come up with an explanation for this massive shift in belief, the hundreds of eyewitnesses, and the detailed history of these events recorded in the Gospels." (31)

If this mountain of evidence doesn't convince someone, the authors pose an interesting suggestion: "I'm going to suggest that you should want to believe it is true." Why? Because, "the resurrection changes everything." (31)

The excerpt below explains how the resurrection changes everything, how it has daily implications for our life. You'll notice the answer to the why shies away from some of the more consumeristic elements that sometimes mark evangelistic efforts—"You should want to believe it's true," we sometimes say, "because of heaven" or "God's blessing" or "life purpose and meaning." Instead this book has a wholly Christo-centric focus to the why.

Read the excerpt and pass it along to remember "Our old life is gone, and we now experience a new authority, identity, and mission...we have died and have been raised again to experience new and abundant life." (96)

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What does it mean, practically, to live in light of the resurrection? What difference does Jesus’ resurrection make in the lives of those who believe?

Whether you are someone who doubts and struggles to believe that a Jewish man beat death, or someone who attends Easter services every year, it is worth your time to consider what belief in Jesus produces. In other words, how does the death and resurrection of Jesus change a life? What does that look like?

As you can imagine, moving from doubt and into belief promises to radically reorient your life, your goals, and your dreams. In a real sense, it is like shifting from death to life…

Jesus informs our resurrected life. He gives us a new and gracious authority, a new identity, and a new mission. With that in view, what does it look like to participate in this task of renewing the world? Where do we begin? Jesus has painted for us a great picture of the new life. Let’s turn now to the daily implications of resurrection life.

IMPLICATIONS: RISKING FOR HUMANITY

If Jesus did, indeed, rise from the dead, we have nothing to fear and everything we need. All that we strive for is fulfilled in Jesus. All that we seek to avoid has been resolved by him. For example, if Jesus rose from the dead, we no longer need to strive for acceptance because we are now accepted by him. If Jesus rose from the dead, we don’t need to fear death, because it has been defeated. This means that we are free to smuggle medical supplies into Burma, even at the risk of death, knowing that our eternal fate is already sealed. We can move to distant countries to invest in development and renewal because Christ did the same for the world. Like the early Christians, we can care for the poor and marginalized in our cities. If we have resurrection life, we will have courage to take risks in the name of love.

Give

Disciples of Jesus will no longer hoard what they have. Instead, they give it away. The hope of resurrection frees us to live generous lives. When we look at our hands, our bank accounts, our homes, and our time, we ask, “God, how can I be a blessing to your people?” There is no need to hoard possessions because you have abundant life in Jesus. You invest your life in his calling to make disciples. This is no overnight task; it’s a lifetime endeavor.

Making disciples will bring you joy and hardship. After all, this invitation is radical — exchange your authority for Jesus’ authority, your self-made identity for his better identity, your purpose for his purpose. But this is how the resurrection works: in dying to ourselves we receive the life Jesus offers. Every gift and “sacrifice” we make becomes another opportunity to realize the greatness and goodness of God’s gift to us in the resurrected Christ.

Celebrate

Part of experiencing the power of the resurrected life is sensing your need to pause regularly and celebrate. You can sing, dance, paint, and bake all in praise of God’s goodness. You can marvel at the story of God and the honor you have to participate in it. All are welcome at these celebrations: the shy, the awkward, and the rude. Our parties will be open and welcoming because we know that Christ came to us when we were not desirable and invited us to join him. Who Jesus is and what he has done is at the center of your joyful celebration. 

Serve

If Christ has reconciled us to himself, serving us in our rebellion and sin, we should follow his example and seek reconciliation with others. Because Christ has served us, we are free to follow Jesus in caring for the vulnerable and those who need to hear the story of God.

Yes, it will be a struggle and a sacrifice. You will need to fight for reconciliation sometimes. Where there are disagreements, you will fight for peace. Where there is injustice, you will need to find creative ways to bring justice.  Jesus did everything needed to restore the relationship between God and humanity, and you are now invited to join him in his work of restoring broken relationships.

This may take the form of adopting orphans or caring for teenage mothers. It could look like hosting the homeless and visiting prisoners. You will need to fight for justice and for people to be treated as people of worth and value, people for whom God’s Son gave his life to save. You will daily need to ask yourself: “How can I bring hope and love into this world, this city, and my neighborhood?” 

Jesus tells those who follow him to leave all they have behind, to give their lives to the poor, to love their enemies, and to be a blessing to the world. Let’s not pretend this is easy to do. Following Jesus will require your whole life. Not just part of it. Not just your leisure time. Not just some of your budget. No, it requires your whole life. It will feel like death and suffering at times. It will feel that way because you are laying your life down. That’s what the resurrection looks like in daily life. We do not hold anything back — our talents, possessions, or time — because we live with the certainty that death and sin have been defeated.

There is no sugarcoating it. You will lose your life. In its place you will find a vibrant, full, and eternal life. (77-96)

Raised?

Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection

By Jonathan K. Dodson and Brad Watson

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