The difficulty with Jesus is that he turns everything upside down. You become rich by being poor. In your humility you are powerful. You become who you were meant to be by not thinking of yourself.
What next? You die in order to live?
Yes, and that is precisely what Jesus did, submitting himself to death through crucifixion and then rising from the dead. And we are supposed to do the same thing. Our sojourn here on earth—a mere flicker of light in the darkness of the cosmos—can and should be marked by a dying to self.
That means escaping from self-absorption and reaching out for others. It means forgiving and loving those who try to tear you down. You find joy in serving other people.
Hard to swallow?
You’d think that by now we’d find it easier to believe than the polar opposite: that happiness is achieved by being successful, rich, powerful, fawned upon? Every day we read about another film celebrity, rock star, billionaire, or shaker and mover committing suicide, dying of a drug overdose, killing or being killed. Yet we still insist that they are who we want to be like.
Did Jesus really rise from the dead? That question is really at the heart of Christianity? Oh well, maybe not for watered-downed versions of the faith, but certainly for the first Christians, who were willing to and did die by the thousands because of their faith in the Resurrection of Jesus. As a result their faith spread like dandelion seeds throughout the world.
Of course there are the naysayers. Science, they say, has made religion obsolete. Faith is mere superstition. The only mysteries are those remaining to solve by science, and they are all of a material nature because that’s all there is.
Once we get rid of Faith the world can make real progress. One wonders what the millions upon millions of victims of Lenin and Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot would have say about that. Those fellows sure made the world a better place, didn’t they? And in our time, not centuries ago.
For us Christians, we’ll stick with Jesus. We really believe that there is such a thing as Truth and that it is found by turning everything upside down.