Today's Easter service had us write little Thank You notes to Jesus, and pin them to the cross. Typically a little resistent to this sort of activity but found myself resonating with the activity. As I begin to consider all the things I'm blessed with, then prioritize them so I can list those things for which I'm most grateful on a 3" square of paper, I find that the exercise forces me to look at the ways in which I'm foundationally blessed. Let me walk you through where my mind went.
As one might expect, I first thought of my lovely wife, then my family, with whom we celebrated yesterday, then I thought of how blessed we are to have a church we love and who loves us, and how blessed it is that we pay our bills etc. The typical things that a majority of us would recognize as blessings. Then, I began to feel a little selfish. All of this was Miles centered. It is my security and safety that I'm most thankful. It is that I have a super dope wife, and a pile of friends. It is me who has health, and happiness, and an education and a winning smile. I don't really know that I'm supposed to be thinking about myself, at least not to the exclusion of all other people and how Easter has blessed them. Whether or not this Milescentric view of Easter is appropriate, is actually less the point. The point is that I did feel like a weenie.
The weenie feeling, forced me to the foundational question of how the cross and the resurrection bless me and everyone else. What actually happens in the resurrection? Not from a logistical perspective, nor am I asking for an owner's manual for atonement. What I mean is in my everyday life what is a reasonable way to view the resurrection and how it matters? This is one of those things that is either profound or elementary, a phenomenon I see so often in Christianity. Things that we learned long ago and have forgotten, or things that uneducated 14 year olds understand but I somehow miss, all too often rock my world.
For me the answer was that this is the only blessing that really matters. All of these other things are empty without the promise of reunion with the Father. For anyone who's not a Christian this sounds a little off, cliche or cultish, so let me try to unpack it briefly. Of what value would, hot wife, 20" biceps, financial security, loads of friends etc. be if at the end of it all, when LeeAnn gets old, my 20"biceps become 26" flabby arms, the stocks plummet again, and my friends all die before me because I've been living on LeeAnn's crazy diet for 30 years, we simply end up as filling for a really expensive box, or worse.
I see all the things I'm blessed with as bandaids outside the work of the cross. If there were no resurrection, all the things we typically list as blessings are simply opiates to keep us trudging through til we finally die. With the cross as the lens through which we see the blessings of health, friendship, love, etc. those blessings are given a greater meaning because we know the living God, who wishes to give us great gifts is just warming up. Paying the water, electric and gas bill, though pretty sweet now, will be something completely menial when we are at the feet of the Father, chillin' with JC. Without the cross, we don't have that to look forward to, we simply have at best a sweet retirement, at worst continued separation from He who loves us most.