Faith Matters - Wanting proof…I was invited to coffee by two upper-teen young men. They had theological questions and did I have time to meet with them, even though they weren’t members of my church? I was thrilled. Not every day do clergy get such invitations from young people.
By: Kent Stillson, Pastor, Alexandria Echo Press
I was invited to coffee by two upper-teen young men. They had theological questions and did I have time to meet with them, even though they weren’t members of my church? I was thrilled. Not every day do clergy get such invitations from young people.
The two were questioning the church their parents raised them in. The questions came fast and profound. How did life begin? What about evolution? If God is all powerful and loving, why did this horror and that suffering happen?
Eventually the subject of Easter arose. I reminded the two, if you take Christianity seriously, it will lead to the cross.
My teenage inquisitors knew the facts of the Resurrection taught in Sunday school, but now they questioned. Did the resurrection really happen? Or was it a hoax concocted by Jesus’ friends?
Yes, I believe it really happened, I told them. Yes, it was a real death and real bodily resurrection.
What evidence do I have? I remember thinking, “Wow, these two will make great lawyers some day!”
What evidence is there of the resurrection? Twelve men would not give up their lives to perpetuate a tale they knew to be a hoax. Each of the disciples was eventually martyred because they refused to renounce their faith in the crucified and resurrected Jesus.
What evidence is there of the resurrection? I reminded the inquiring teenagers that the biblical story of Jesus is filled with details of Jesus’ agony and his own questioning of God’s will.
The Bible tells of Jesus’ sorrow when the disciples abandoned him and his disappointment at their shallow faith. If the death and resurrection Bible account was merely a story written by friends to honor the fallen Jesus, they would have made Jesus into a super hero. But there is none of that in the biblical account.
If it is gritty and honest in its ugly details, it can be trusted in the glory details as well.
What evidence of the resurrection do I have? I told my two skeptic friends of resurrection evidence I have seen in people. People who, after years of searching themselves, became so convinced of the Gospel truth that they gave their life and their resources to sharing the Good News. People who faced incredible hardships with strength and courage that could never come from within – but only from the Living God. People who looked death square in the face and said, “My Lord and my God!”
This didn’t make much of an impression. They wanted empirical evidence.
Paul writing in I Corinthians 15 provided accounts of eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus. The nails-in-his-hands Jesus appeared to the 11, then to 500 at one time – people who were still living when Paul wrote the letter.
My questioning friends still weren’t convinced. I said all I could.
Faith is a gift from God. I pray God will surprise them with evidence of their own someday. Likely, they won’t be able to prove the resurrection, either, but will know its truth deep in their heart.
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Kent Stillson is a pastor at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Alexandria. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.