The reality is so much of what constitutes faith and church does not really depend upon a living Jesus -- only a dead one. I have written about it before. How a question poised by Fleming Rutledge has haunted me about preaching. She wondered presciently whether it mattered to most preaching today if Jesus were raised from the dead or lived. I spent the next weeks looking at my own preaching to see if what she wondered was true of me as well. Every pastor should have these moments of frankness in which we look at ourselves and what we say to God's people with brutal honesty.
We live at a time in which so much of orthodox Christianity has been surrendered to the doubter or sacrificed to make the faith more palatable to the skeptic. We hardly notice what has been lost except when some true blue believer shows up to raise a stir. That is the thing. There is no one more dangerous than a real believer -- one who actually trusts the words of Jesus and asks us to trust them as well. The world loves and the Church finds easier the one who is willing to adjust the truth and live and let live. Bishops and District Presidents have learned that the one who can move the boundaries of truth easier to live with than one who holds to the faith with sincerity and conviction. So it is easier to preach a Gospel that does not require Jesus to be raised or living -- a mere moral hero who urges us to be better people. Easier that proclaiming sin that is so wretched and we so powerless that God had to give up His only Son. Easier than admitting that Christ died for us apart from any worth or value in us. Easier that confessing that faith compels us to live worthy of Christ, as a people who have been raised from the death of sin to life in Christ. Easier than believing in a God who has forged a future for a people who had only a past.
Because He lives. That is the confession of Scripture and the cause of saints. Because He lives is what calls us out from ourselves and what comes easy to the hard and noble path of righteousness. Because He lives He can rescue those who fall and restore those broken upon the rocks of temptation. Because He lives He can answer the siren call of death with hope and life that death cannot steal. There should be no place for any Christian to say If Jesus were alive... and every cause to proclaim Because He lives.