Peterson, Eugene. Living The Resurrection. The risen Christ in everyday life. NavPress. 2006.
I am just completing this year’s reading of the Bible. The paraphrase I read was The Message. I found it an engaging read. In this book Eugene uses that same writing style to explain something very basic as it relates to God’s provision for us to live the Christian life. He calls it ‘resurrection living’. This is sound teaching written in very understandable language. This book would be a great discipleship tool.
Billy Sunday had a very simple message. “Hit the sawdust trail, fall on your knees, and receive Christ as your Savior. Then walk out of this tent into the street, get hit by a Mack truck, and go straight to heaven.” This book deals with the spiritual formation that hopefully takes place between the tent and the Mack truck. The author calls this “a rich tradition of formation-by-resurrection”. (13).
The accounts of the resurrection in the gospels have this in common. They all deal with reverence and intimacy. Fear is turned to wonder. It is in these stories that we discover truths that present the possibility of formation by resurrection. Wonder and surprise are very much a part of this experience. The wonder of resurrection is compared to our personal experience of the wonder of conversion. All is new and life is exciting. However, the drudgery of the workplace (and life in general) can over a period of time decrease that wonder. This is a form of idolatry. Mystery and reverence, along with wonder, can be squeezed out of our lives. The principle of the Sabbath rest is basic to resurrection living. Our life “in the land of the living”, Ps. 116, can easily become a threat to our resurrection life. It can rob us of the enthusiasm and vitality of a newfound faith. Our “resurrection identity” (58), becomes eroded.
To keep this from happening we are introduced to the “resurrection meals” (59) that took place not long after the resurrection. Luke tells us about the first one. It happened in Emmaus. It was the setting for the recognition of the risen Christ by two very concerned disciples. The second meal took place in Galilee and was witnessed by seven of Jesus’ disciples. Again there was the recognition of the resurrected Christ during the ‘beach breakfast’ and an introduction to resurrection living. “Formation-by-resurrection does not depend on a specially prepared setting or a carefully selected time and place.” (70). It is not a ritual requiring certain procedures. Jesus is always the host of a resurrection meal. We are involved but not in charge. The Eucharistic table is a great place to initiate the practice of resurrection life. Each meal can be a reminder of that life.
More and more most of us (laypeople) require the services of specialists (professionals. Our spiritual lives are no exception. The result can easily be that we become (spiritual) consumers. This is not resurrection living. “Resurrection is experienced in a network of personal relationships.” (85). It is a choice. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all involved in resurrection living. The six resurrection texts in Paul’s writings are congruent with the stories of the gospels. Resurrection living is jeopardized by culture’s attack on genuine friendship. “Friend is being relentlessly deconstructed.” (111). The high value placed on independence and self-sufficiency adds to this deconstruction.
“The resurrection life is a practice” (114). We speak of the ‘practice’ of law, medicine, diplomacy, etc. In this sense we practice Sabbath keeping and the celebration of the Eucharist (Holy Communion). We maintain our resurrection identity by submitting to and remembering our ‘holy baptism’ symbolizing death and resurrection. Baptism (in its various forms) is one sacrament that all Christians have in common.
In the appendix Eugene has included the resurrection stories as we they are found in Matt. 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21.