How easily Truth gives way to icon! Nearly 2000 years ago outside Jerusalem, at the first crack of dawn the crucified body of Jesus suddenly stirred to life. The Spirit of God not only reanimated his body, but resurrected that body in a completely new form. Jesus became the firstborn of a whole new creation of men and women–transformed from corruptible to incorruptible, from mortal to immortal.
Resurrected Man walked the planet for the first time. Jesus had overcome death and now lived beyond it so that we too might see and know and feel and hear him as he comes to live in everyone who invites him to do so. That’s the heart of the Resurrection, not just that he overcame death, but that he lives inside each of us today and wants to share an even deeper relationship with each of us than he was able to by living in the flesh alongside Peter and John, and Mary and Martha.
Today millions of people will gather all over the world to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. They will sing songs and hear sermons on the Resurrection. Then too many of them will wake up tomorrow morning and live like he isn’t in the room. They won’t look for him, listen to him, or follow him. Has religion reduced the fact of the Resurrection to an icon we can celebrate once a year and still miss its very reality each day?
Religion always takes something that is real and makes an icon of it to empty it of its power. Instead of worship being the way we live under Father’s care, it’s a song service we attend. Instead of communion being a meal of rich fellowship and remembrance of him, it becomes a shot class and a dried wafer tacked onto a formal service. And instead of church being the living community of people who are encouraging each other to follow him, it is merely a weekly gathering in a building in which we are more spectator than participant.
Celebrating the icon is not at all the same as embracing the reality. The Resurrection of Jesus is not best celebrated in fancy-dress religious gatherings, but in waking up each morning with an eye and an ear turned toward the Living Jesus who wants to make himself known in you today and lead you into the ever-increasing freedom and joy of knowing him.
When truth gives way to icon, it’s best to reclaim the Truth again even if that means abandoning the icon. He is risen indeed and because of that I am not alone today to fend for myself in my sins, doubts, trials, or fears. He is with me and I with him today, and he is making all things new!