“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” – Luke 24:5-6
Easter morning is the Christian’s hope. On Friday, He laid His life down for our sins. He said that nobody was taking His life, He was laying it down; and that He had the authority to take it up again (John 10:18). On Easter morning, He did just that. He rose again – the firstfruits of “those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20).
This was all foretold in Isaiah 25:8: “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.”
And this is our hope. He who led captivity captive; He who is the good shepherd, laying His life down for the sheep; He will come again in glory. He had walked around Israel for better than three years, performing miracle after miracle. Healing the sick, opening blind eyes, casting out demons, feeding thousands with a few loaves, raising the dead. After all of that, and after calling His shot, on Easter morning He delivered awe-inspiring “… watch this.”
In Isaiah we also see the Lord wiping away all the tears. It is in the hope of Easter, and the firmness of eternity, that we face the trials of the day. One day every wrong will be righted. Every pain will be undone. Every injustice will be set straight.
When we face unfair treatment, we recognize that these things happen, and that everything will be straightened out at the end. Since the existence of the church, Christians have faced persecution since the beginning, and the Lord said it would be so. We don’t seek out the persecution, and we do lament its utter unfairness. But we do not lament as those without hope – those who would rob our property, our freedom, our lives can only touch the earthly, the temporal. But we have property, freedom, life that is eternal – these they cannot touch.
It’s important to remember this context as we discuss economics, politics, and most importantly, public policy in a democracy. There will be governments across the world that will treat people unfairly – this is nothing new to human existence. There will be governments that draw a very clear distinction between the powerful ruling class and the rest, the dregs, the mere citizenry. We don’t approve of this – but we also don’t recoil in shock that oppression exists – it has always been so.
Now, outright oppression isn’t at all common in America, as it is in may parts of the world. Still, we have plenty to say about reasonable governance in a democracy. Our great concern here is the behavior of the believers in a democracy, in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Better than 80% of Americans self-identify as Christians. Ask the random passer-by “what is your religion?” and four-out-of-five will respond with “I’m a Christian.” With those numbers, and a government that is elected by the people, we ought never hear of injustice, unfair practices, or irresponsible government policies.
If we lived in a country where a majority were non-Christian, then we would still want freedom-based governance – this springs from a fundamental belief that things are better when people are free. But, in such a country, we could possibly understand a little more when the government made the people unfree; it is the way of the world. But in a country that is 80% Christian? It ought not be so. Robbed of freedom by our own brothers? This is the stuff of theocracies.
And yet, hope is undeterred.