EASTER REFLECTION – “JESUS THROWN EVERYTHING OFF BALANCE”
Those are the words of the Misfit, a fictional murderous character in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (The Art of the Short Story) by writer Flannery O’Connor. In the real-world O’Connor writes as a reclusive Catholic in a largely evangelical Protestant, sociable culture. It is of this culture that she “crafts a scathing critique of self-righteous, complacent, well-intentioned people, the people who populate most of (white) Southern [US] society” (Woodiwiss, 2003), where “religion is present everywhere, but rarely practiced in its true form” (Harris, 2014).
The Misfit says, “If [Jesus] did what He said, then it’s nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow Him, and if He didn’t, then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can.” In a vague moment of clarity, the Misfit recognizes that the Resurrection represents the crucial problem of human life — either it’s true or it isn’t, and your belief about it will change everything.
At least it should. That was O’Connor’s commentary on Southern [US] Christian culture where “people strive for respectability, ignore Biblical teachings, and only act as “Christ followers” when it benefits them”. While people might appear to be ‘good’, there is something in them that discards their need for Christ’s redemption. The authenticity of the resurrection would necessitate more, because to accept it would involve admitting fault in themselves.
This was the experience of the early followers of Jesus: “Jesus thrown everything out of balance.”
In the Gospel of John we read of the ‘highest Christological statement in any of the gospels’. Thomas is the disciple who makes the ultimate confession of faith: “My Lord and My God!” It is with a degree of the unfortunate that Thomas is referred to as ‘doubting Thomas’ (he was never called that in the Bible). Thomas was ready to go up to Jerusalem and die with Christ (John 11:16) while the others tried to talk Jesus out of going back to Judea (John 11:8).
Augustine said of Thomas, “He saw and touched the man, and acknowledged the God whom he neither saw nor touched.” Yet at the same time, Thomas doubted, and in doing so represents many today.
Like the Misfit, many are Thomases. On one level, it would be so much easier not to really believe that Jesus is the risen Lord, the Son of God. Like Thomas thinking, “No, it’s easier if Jesus is dead. It’s sad, sure. But if He’s alive — if He really has come back to life — then that’s going to change my life in ways I can’t even begin to imagine” (Garrett, 2015).
At least it should. Do you really believe in the risen Christ or the religious Christ?
Let it throw you off balance.
Let it change you, as it has always changed people: change your personal faith and practice, change your life in community, change your values, change your sense of self.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”