Insights on the Resurrection from Brennan Manning’s Abba’s Child.

Standing on a London street corner, G. K. Chesterton was approached by a newspaper reporter. “Sir, I understand that you recently became a Christian. May I ask you one question?”

“Certainly,” replied Chesterton.

“If the risen Christ suddenly appeared at this very moment and stood behind you, what would you do?”

Chesterton looked the reporter squarely in the eye and said, “He is.”

Is this a mere figure of speech, wishful thinking, a piece of pious rhetoric? No, this truth is the most real fact about our life; it is our life. The Jesus who walked the roads of Judea and Galilee is the One who stands behind us. The Christ of history is the Christ of faith.

Biblical theology’s preoccupation with the Resurrection is not simply apologetic—that is, it is no longer viewed as the proof par excelence of the truth of Christianity. Faith means receiving the gospel message as dynamis, reshaping us in the image and likeness of God. The gospel reshapes the hearer through the power of Jesus’s victory over death. The gospel proclaims a hidden power in the world—the living presence of the Risen Christ. It liberates men and women from the slavery that obscures in them the image and likeness of God.

What gives the teaching of Jesus its power? What distinguishes it from the Koran, the teachings of Buddha, the wisdom of Confucius? The risen Christ does. For example, if Jesus did not rise, we can safely praise the Sermon on the Mount as a magnificent ethic. If He did, such praise doesn’t matter. The sermon becomes a portrait of our ultimate destiny. The transforming force of the word resides in the risen Lord who stands by it and thereby gives it final and present meaning.

I will say it again: The dynamic power of the gospel flows from the Resurrection. The New Testament writers repeated this: “All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” Philippians 3:10)…

God raised Jesus. This is the apostolic witness, the hear of the apostolic preaching… An awareness of the resurrected Christ banishes meaninglessness—the dreaded sense that all our life experiences are disconnected and useless. It helps us to see our lives as all of one piece and reveals a design never perceived before. […]

Without deliberate awareness of the present risenness of Jesus, life is nonsense, all activity useless, all relationships in vain. Apart from the risen Christ, we live in a world of impenetrable mystery and utter obscurity—a world without meaning, a world of shifting phenomena, a world of death, danger, and darkness. A world of inexplicable futility. Nothing is interconnected. Nothing is worth doing, for nothing endures. Nothing is seen beyond appearances. Nothing is heard but echoes dying on the wind. No love can outlast the emotion that produced it. It is all sound and fury, with no ultimate significance.

The dark riddle of life is illuminated in Jesus; the meaning, purpose, and goal of everything that happens to us, and the way to make it all count, can be learned only from the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Living in the awareness of the risen Jesus is not a trivial pursuit for the bored and lonely or a defense mechanism enabling us to cope with the stress and sorrow of life. It is the key that unlocks the door to grasping the meaning of existence. All day and every day we are being reshaped into the image of Christ. Everything that happens to us is designed to this end. Nothing that exists can exist beyond the pale of His presence (“All things were created through him and for him”—Colossians 1:16), nothing is irrelevant to it, nothing is without significance in it.

Everything that comes alive in the risen Christ—who, as Chesterton reminded, is standing behind us. Everything—great, small, important, unimportant, distance, and near—has its place, its meaning, and its value. Through union with Him (as Augustine said, He is more intimate with us than we are with ourselves), nothing is wasted, nothing is missing. There is never a moment that does not carry eternal significance—no action that is sterile, no love that lacks fruition, and no prayer that is unheard.