In this blog, I discuss three key ways that the doctrine of Redemption is connected to the Resurrection of our Lord. First, personal identification – in salvation we die and rise again with Christ (cf. Ro. 6.4-8). Secondly, communal membership – we enter into a community which reflects the message of the Resurrection by our very life together, i.e., from liturgical practices such as the eucharist to the “mercy ministries” of serving at the local soup kitchen (cf. Ro. 12-13). Finally, verbal proclamation – individually and collectively we announce the good news of the basis of Christian redemption, i.e., the Resurrection (cf. Ro. 10.9-17). In these three ways – by participation in the death and new life of Christ, by participation in the Body of Christ (his Church), and by participation in the gospel of Christ – we redeem the world for Christ.
A simple alliteration that might help us easily recall the connection between the Christian doctrine of redemption and the resurrection of our Lord are as follows: lifestyle, liturgy, and lips. That is, we redeem the world, we may do well to remember that the way we live (“lifestyle”), the very church services in which we participate (“liturgy”), and the verbal sharing of the gospel message itself (“lips”) are profound and powerful ways to lift up our Lord and labor for the good of this world.
So: when we build universities and hospitals; when we start NGOs and for-profit companies; when we create art and build arguments; when we attend church service and prioritize mid-week small group meetings – in all these acts, we are participating in the redemption of this world. Likewise, when authors write books (and live out their theses!) on creation care; when engineers travel 10,000 miles to help rebuild a city devastated by an earthquake; when sociologists, psychologists, and journalists critique something in the public square; when parents raise another generation of faithful followers of Jesus – in all these acts, again we redeem the world.
Here I think it would be helpful to remember that intimacy precedes impact. Theologically speaking, “the indicative” drives “the imperative.” In plain English, who we are (“the indicative”) comes before and drives what we do (“the imperative”). In even plainer language, our identity comes before our impact. As we read in 2 Corinthians chapter 5: “[I]f anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (v. 17). Here is our identity: a new creation in Christ. And in light – and only in light – of this truth, we can see what we are to do: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (v. 18). In other words, having been reconciled to God through Christ’s atoning death and resurrection, we now are called to reconcile all other to God. As we read further, since God has “entrust[ed] to us the message of reconciliation . . . , we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (vv. 19-20).
So as we, like Paul, “implore [others] on behalf of Christ [to] be reconciled to God,” by our lifestyle, liturgy, and lips, we recall that the theological basis and motivation for doing so is that: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (vv. 20-21). May we live and speak and think as reconciled ambassadors of this Resurrection message.