The Cognitive Dissonance of Resurrection Faith

There’s no denying that Resurrection Sunday is probably the most joyous Sunday of the church year.  With Easter comes the joyous message of Jesus rising from the dead and triumphing over the devil, sin and, of course, death.  As Jesuit priest James Martin along with many others on social media thoughtfully communicated: Easter changes everything.  We leave our churches on Easter Sunday morning in the sure hope of the resurrection of the dead, of the sure hope that death does not have the last say, of the sure hope that this fallen world is not the be all end all.  We leave hopeful and happy.

But then it happens, like it did this past Sunday. Easter Sunday, that is.  News reports came in telling us that another terrorist attack had occurred.  This time in Pakistan, with 69 murdered, most of whom were Christian.  One can sense the embittered atheist or naysayer of Christianity saying “Where’s your triumphant God now!?” And one must admit that he or she has a point.  I encountered such an imaginative person on Monday morning on my way to get coffee as I listened to NPR and first learned of the said attack. So much for the Resurrection now, so much for God changing everything.  It’s also in that moment that I realized that believing in the Resurrection is really a stupid endeavor.  But I suppose that’s the point, though.

Easter does change everything but in a far more signifiant way than I think we might realize.  It goes so much deeper than death being done away with on the Last Day.  It has to do with how we approach, view and live in the world. The Resurrection gives us eyes to see, ears to hear, and minds to comprehend the world in ways that would not be possible without it.  It’s a sort of cognitive dissonance.  It’s why the early Christians could stand before Caesar and confess boldly that Jesus is Lord even though the physical evidence before them said just the opposite.  For it was Caesar’s Empire that they resided in, it was Caesar’s armies who had brought “peace” and civilization to the known world, it was Caesar’s soldiers who arrested them and it was Caesar’s jails that they had sat in.  For all intents and purposes Caesar was clearly Lord and Savior of the world.  But they knew that there was more than meets the eye.  They knew that the true Lord was from Nazareth, had been crucified on a hill outside of Jerusalem, had been raised from the dead by their Father in heaven who exalted him above all and made him Lord.  They believed this even though it seemed so stupid.  For “cursed is he who hangs on a tree” in the eyes of any faithful Jew. For the Lord and Savior of the world was found on coins and statues not on a humiliating instrument meant to invoke fear and terror in all those who looked on such as a Roman Cross.  What folly it must’ve seemed to Romans.

But that’s the point.

The Resurrection of Jesus calls us to look beyond, to lift the veil, when it comes to the world around us. For terrorist attacks are not just the product of men who wish to do harm to innocent civilians but also the product of a deeper reality: the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  The spiritual forces that prompt these men to kill are the same spiritual forces that prompt Americans to abort babies and feed the military industrial complex endlessly.  The same spiritual forces that prompt us to consume endlessly in order to stimulate the economy are the same spiritual forces that wreak havoc on underdeveloped nations and eventually create terrorists.  It’s all interconnected.  The Resurrection reality prompts us to mourn with those who have suffered but it also prompts us to say no more, to not play the world’s game of tit for tat, to not be consumed by the fear and pragmatism of this present evil age.

The Resurrection of Jesus prompts us to a repentant life where we draw upon the Crucified One and seek with repentant hearts to lift the veil and see beyond what the spiritual forces of evil would have us believe.  Belief in the Resurrection of Jesus should prompt cognitive dissonance from the world and its ways.  For the Resurrection reveals that there is only one true reality, that of Jesus and his Kingdom.




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