I used to think Easter was a joke and the account of the resurrection a myth. I couldn’t forgive God for decades of debilitation. This post show how history pointed me back to Christianity and hope.
I hope that no matter what you are going through at this difficult COVID crisis, know that God is the answer, not the source of your problems. This is a 3-minute read, but I think it will be worth it by the end.
Between the 3 days of Jesus’ public crucifixion and the alleged resurrection, the disciples were in disarray… cowardly. Peter denied knowing Christ three times, Thomas doubted. Judas killed himself. Many were hiding in caves. The disciples were behaving exactly like all the rest of the fake messiah cults, on cue. Christianity should be wiped out soon.
Then, something totally changed the script. People, starting with the disciples, behaved in strange ways.
Each one, save for John, spread the Gospel message until they were executed. With each news of a fallen brother, the rest did not stop, they continued to turn the world upside down… starting with Rome, the epicenter of military persecution, and then the world.
These persecutions are no joke. The persecutions under Rome intensified from the time of Christ to 311 AD that included Emperor Nero using Christians as human torches, burning them alive on the roadside and being thrown to be torn apart by dogs. If you were Christian, you could have your property seized, be thrown in prison and even executed. Why call yourself Christian at all?
“Love your enemies … pray for those that persecute you.”
Those words Jesus taught while people thought he could be messiah. Did peoples roll their eyes then? “Love those Roman overlords that treated us as dispensable second-class citizens? They jailed or killed us just for congregating!” Some would think.
Yet, these Christians changed Rome.
Romans would practice abortions and abandonment of little children to wild animals. Women were considered inferior; they could not speak in public and most had no education. Romans promoted brutal gladiatorial contests where people have torn apart for amusement. Christians, sometimes under threat of death, changed all of that.
From Rome, it spread to the rest of the world, vastly influencing western culture in help for the poor, education for all, political freedom, economic freedom, science, and the family amongst many others.
Mother Teresa chose to “serve the poorest of the poor and to live among them and like them.” Historian Glenn Sunshine wrote, “Christians were the first people in history to oppose slavery systematically. Early Christians purchased slaves in the markets simply to set them free.” Majority of Noble Prize winners in science identify as Christian.
The list goes on and on that even atheist authoritarian regimes and atheist journalists have acknowledged it.
Matthew Parris, a well-known atheist British journalist says of Africa’s structural moral decline:
“Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts … these alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do.”
“In Africa, Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.”
David Aikman, PhD in history and former Time magazine bureau chief in Beijing and Moscow, in his book Jesus in Beijing, writes what a Maoist Chinese social scientist discovered about the success of the West:
“We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful… We don’t have any doubt about this.”
This was a scholar from China’s premier academic research institute, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, in 2002.
Today, on ground zero of the COVID19 virus, while some have criticized China’s heavy-handed ways of treating suspected COVID19 carriers, forcefully separating loved ones and quarantining entire apartment blocks. In stark contrast, there are reports of Christians giving out emergency relief and even offering lodging to those fleeing Hubei. Would you offer your home to someone suspected of COVID19? These are the same Christians persecuted by the CCP … just like in the days of early disciples in Rome.
700 years earlier, an entire Christian village chose to self-sacrifice and seal themselves off from the rest of the world during the Black Plague. Their village became a tomb in order to save strangers they did not know. If you live in civil society, you might be tempted to think such behavior is natural. It’s not. Images of old ladies fighting over toilet paper tell you otherwise.
Another atheist political commentary, Douglas Murray, revealed the question glaringly staring at us in the face, he admits that without Christianity, civil society has no lasting power. In an interview with John Anderson, he says:
“What is the thing that is totally revolutionary about what Jesus says? It’s the commandment to love your enemies… this is a world-historical change. My own view of this is that it is possible that individuals on occasions with exceptional grace and that it is almost impossible for most people most of the time… This is not an easy thing to replicate without its foundational claim, the truth claim of Christianity.
… Can a society in the same manner if the thing that gave the source of society, is itself cut off? … Possibly, for a time. When you are running on the fumes of that implication, can it sustain forever? No. Because if you don’t believe in the driving force of it, then once the people who did believe in it died out you’re still going on a memory of it and then that dies out.”
We already saw this with China that tried to eradicate religion from the public consciousness starting over 50 years ago, decimating its moral order.
Douglas admits that its almost impossible for people to change in such ways without the truth claim of Christianity.
That the transformation Christianity brought around the entire world was not replicatable by any social engineering in history begs us to take another look at Easter.
Gospel writers and martyred apostles say the empty tomb is explained by a bodily resurrection proving Jesus’ words true, atheist historians claim that the empty tomb is explained by anything else, although they don’t know what it was.
The resurrection of Christ was supposed to make people into “New Creations” (2 Cor 5:17). It wasn’t about rules to instill behavioral modification, such methods cannot change the heart. China has done that for 50 years. They failed. The Jews under the Law of Moses tried that, they failed too.
It’s either the greatest message of hope for a dark world, that the God of all creation came personally to show us how much he loved us, to change us to who we were meant to be and make certain our heavenly citizenship; or it is the greatest mystery to be solved because it made hopelessly selfish and vulnerable men do oddly selfless things.
Either one is wondrous to behold.
For the long version with citations, see under my “Thoughts” page: https://letterstoamoderndayjob.com/thoughts/easter-hopes-patient-zero/
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 Aikman, David. Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Transforming China And Changing the Global Balance of Power (pp. 5-6). Salem Books. Kindle Edition.