It is not enough to celebrate Easter and say “Christ is risen.” It is useless to proclaim this unless at the same time we can say that we have also risen, that we have received something from heaven. We must feel appalled when the tremendous events that took place, the death and resurrection of Jesus, are proclaimed again and again and yet actually nothing happens with us. It has no effect.
The long passage of time has brought with it a temptation to keep on speaking about the death of Christ and his resurrection without being moved by it. We hear about Christ’s death on the cross, and we sit there just as bored as if we were reading a newspaper – in fact we would find a newspaper a good deal more interesting. Here the enemy has made a gain, and if we wish to shift him at all, then we must stand before God and fight and pray to find the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Though people get into tremendous arguments about religious questions, all the time God is dead. And it is perfectly all right with them if he is dead, because then they can do what they like. Nietzsche said, “God is dead,” and he is right. But we say, “God is alive!” We don’t want a good life, either in this one or in the other one. All we want is to know that God is alive. I don’t want a minute of easy happiness until this earth knows that God is alive!
We must bow down under the living God and weep aloud for having killed him up to now. We are born for trouble, born for battle. Shame on us Christians who always want to have it nice and soft, with a bit of God in our lives!
Christ’s future is not one single point in an absolute remoteness for which we are to wait, a mere coming event. This is hardly thinkable, for we would probably all go to sleep over it. Christ’s future is now, or it is not at all.
We must become filled with zeal, with joy and gratitude, gladly enduring anything, however hard, in order to be free of death and of this life in the midst of death. Then the powers of the resurrection come closer to us; then Christ really becomes the risen one, and a new life comes into being. Not the kind of life we have been seeking until now, trying to be a little better than other people, thinking that it is a new life if we steal a little less or walk around a little more decently than before or wear a more respectable coat, or if we exchange a criminal’s cap for something more acceptable. All this is supposed to be a new life? Bah!
It is not at all a question of being better than you were before. The new life means that forces for life can now be seen within you, that something of God and of heaven, something holy, can grow in you. It means we can actually see that it is no longer the sinful desires that have power, but that there is something of Christ’s resurrection, something of his life that has power through the Spirit and that leads you toward wholeness.
What is God’s kingdom anyway? Certainly not Christian causes or institutions. God’s kingdom is the power of God. It is the rulership of God. God’s kingdom is the revelation of the divine life here on earth, the birth of new hearts, new minds, new feelings, new possibilities. This is God’s kingdom.
Jesus has come from God to triumph over death. Jesus Christ has come into our midst as one of us so that death can be conquered. He has laid the foundation for a completely new life, a new order. In him we can become completely different men and women in the very depth of our beings.
What stupid people Christians often are! Most Christians have absolutely nothing worth saying simply because they have so little to show. The new life that Christ came to bring never quite reaches into the temporal and earthly things, never overcomes this world.
We must make a completely new beginning. I keep coming back to this same point. We need to begin completely anew again and again, more deeply, more thoroughly, more fully. We must do this until we really have laid a new foundation for the Savior. For if we really reach a point where we are united with Christ in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Then we will enter into a completely new life. What a tremendous thing it is to meet the resurrection!
Again and again Christ arises anew.
The resurrection does not consist solely of what happened in the past, nor does it consist of what we happen to believe dogmatically about it–those are not the essential things. We do not gain much by just accepting that Christ died and rose again. Many people believe this, but nevertheless they go to hell. This belief is of no help unless you and I experience Jesus as Lord.
It is not the worst if some people are unable to believe that Christ rose from the dead – at least they still regard it as something tremendous, too tremendous to glibly confess. The sad thing is that so many people today claim to believe it, and yet it means so little to them. It has no effect in their lives. But there is resurrection today just as much as there was back then, after Christ’s death. There is resurrection – for with a certain part of our inner being we can be in a completely different place, where most people don’t dare to go. Our renewal is real to the extent that we find ourselves in an entirely different order.
Again and again Christ arises anew. In what we know of the risen Christ, God wants to renew all things. His will is for the earth as much as it is for the heavens. Otherwise we would never know his reality. We could never conceive of anything becoming different. We would think that his resurrected life was some spiritual thing that we human beings could not understand. That’s not what it is. No. The power of his resurrection is something that is within our reach.
New possibilities can dawn on us, and the more we sense these new possibilities, either in our bodies or in our souls, the more we can ask for, the more we can look for higher and greater things here on earth. Actually, there are no limits. And for this reason we can bring hope into everything, into our daily life, into everything at which we work and into anything that we touch. The power that comes from God is ready to be brought into our human situation, and in such a way as to transform it.
Therefore, we must not turn our attention to the darkness, the evils, and the imperfections of the earth, nor are we to try to figure out how this or that matter is going to turn out. All that has nothing to do with us. We are simply to ask Jesus to give us more and more of his resurrection, until it runs over, until the extraordinary powers from on high that are within our reach can get down to work on all that we do.