I remember, as a boy growing up in the 1970s, the fears of that era. On the international front, the Cold War was in full flow, and fears of nuclear devastation were very real. Various earthquakes and other natural disasters killed many around the world. On the domestic front, an oil-crisis made a deep impact, and there were difficult economic circumstances throughout the decade. So whether it was international or domestic concerns, economic or political, there was plenty of fear.
And then, as time went by, many of the issues of that era disappeared. The Cold War ceased long ago, the nuclear arms race between the US and the former USSR has ceased, the world looks very different now than it did 30 years ago, and technological and scientific advances have enabled us to guard more effectively against many dangers that threatened previous generations. Those who optimistically believe in the advancement of the human race would see all this and feel affirmed in their belief.
And yet fear persists, and those that are eliminated are replaced by new fears. So today again, we see Russia behaving in a threatening way. We worry about dictators and rogue states acquiring nuclear weapons. Terrorism and religious extremism is worse than it has ever been – casting its shadow right across the western world. Economically, things are as difficult as ever – austerity and national debt being uncomfortable economic realities. The natural world remains as volatile as ever – with an increasing awareness of the negative impact of the human race upon the environment.
In the midst of such a world as this – where one set of fears disappears, only to be replaced by another – what a wonderful thing it is to come to Easter and be able to proclaim the resurrection of Christ. There is so much in life – including life itself – that can be taken away from us in an instant, and we have little or no control over it. But here in the resurrection of Christ, we have an unending source of hope, certainty and security.
In a world of very little that is certain, secure and enduring, the message of Christ’s resurrection rings out – offering the very stability that is elusive wherever else we look.
Paul (1 Cor.15) poses the question: what if Christ had not been raised from the dead? And he acknowledges that without the resurrection, Christianity offers no hope to humanity at all: no present hope; no future life. But he concludes: “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” And Paul shows that the resurrection of Jesus opens up the way for all of us, through faith in him, to experience resurrection life – which the Bible defines as being life-to-the-full now, and life-that-never-ends in the world to come.
In a world of much uncertainty and fear, this is the rock-solid message God has entrusted to his church. And, we are assured, once this gift of life is ours, nothing in all creation can take it away from us. Fear will certainly continue to be a reality in this unstable and turbulent world. But the Christian can have absolute certainty, even through such fears, that we are safe in Christ – and that what God has started in us he will go on to complete.