By Jim Tune
Last spring I taught a course on apologetics. We devoted considerable attention to the resurrection. I wanted students to sink deep roots in the ground of real hope—not optimism, not wishful thinking, but hope!
I remember a story about a painful time in the life of a young missionary woman. This woman had married a Rwandan pastor, a Tutsi, and they had established a home together in that country. She was visiting Kenya on a mission trip when the dreadful Rwandan tragedy erupted. Hutu militia moved in, butchering men, women, and children wherever they went. The ensuing mayhem became one of the most brutal genocides ever.
The militia came to the couple’s region, and anarchy reigned. The missionary woman could not return to Rwanda. The borders were closed, and the situation was extremely chaotic.
Eventually she left Kenya and waited for news in her native America. Her church surrounded her with love and prayer. Days turned to weeks, and she heard nothing. She told her pastor many times that she had an absolute conviction her husband was alive. Her pastor shared later that the more certain she became about her husband’s safety, the more concerned he became about her. In reality there was only the slightest chance her husband had not been killed.
Her minister tried to say pastoral words that would open her mind to the possibility her husband might already be with the Lord. But she wouldn’t hear those words, and he said he couldn’t blame her. To the woman it sounded like her preacher lacked faith.
Months passed before they heard any news. Finally a firm report was delivered. Someone had seen her husband taken away and shot. The news devastated her. The pain of loss was bad enough, but the false hope made it a hundred times worse.
That’s a point C.S. Lewis makes in his book, A Grief Observed. Every person who has been by the bedside of a loved one and has seen them rally, only to see them decline, knows what I’m talking about. Hope cannot be a good thing if it’s not real.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “I’m really glad your faith works for you”? When a person says that, he or she means it doesn’t matter whether Christianity is true or not—all that matters is it’s a positive experience for people like you.
But the Bible absolutely disagrees with that sentiment. If Christ is not risen, our faith is nothing more than an emotional crutch. Paul makes it painstakingly clear, everything stands or falls on whether or not Christ was raised. And on this point Paul declares boldly: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
In this postmodern environment, the apologetic approach is changing from an “evidence that demands a verdict” methodology to a philosophical argument. Whatever your preferred approach, sink some roots into deep resurrection ground. There you will find it—real hope!