There are many who refer to Karl Barth as the greatest Protestant theologian of the 20th century. I am not sure I know enough about the matter to agree or not. However, the quote above, originally intended to characterize the gospels, always strikes me at this time of year because from almost every vantage point Easter is miraculous and does not “make sense.”
I suppose that may not true when it comes to Christ being raised from the dead on that first Easter morning. How could he have not been raised from the dead by God, given the life he lead, the lives he helped transform, the eyes he opened, the hearts he mended; that HE could not be held by death is fairly easy for most of us to accept. My difficulty is that such criteria does not apply to me.
I fall so far short of the mark in emulating Jesus’ life that the only thing that could ever make Easter possible for me, Lenten efforts notwithstanding, is a “nevertheless” and NOT a “therefore.” The sum total of what I have thought I have done, should have done, and actually have done to fully engage in imitating Jesus over the last 6 weeks does not end up in an equation which comes anywhere near meriting Easter’s new life, if such a thing were even possible! Though I have taken Paul’s words of the 5th chapter of Ephesians very seriously, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children," I am keenly aware of just how imposing the gulf is between the imitated and the imitator.
So, thank goodness God’s methods are not transactional. Thank goodness God does not make “sense” when it comes to dealing with me. Thank goodness there is grace!
That last one is the clincher isn’t it? God is not bound by our categories, regardless of how much we contrive to make them so. We may construct all manner of levels of goodness, religious achievement, and pious responses but what grace seems to be telling us is that the only thing which stands between us and God, is us!
So, the manner in which we let our desire to be with God colour our lives is vital, not in the sense in measuring our achievements as part of transactional, logical conclusion. It is important because that desire to be with God must be put into practice, as faulted as it may be, to prepare us to hear God’s voice when the time comes. Not our own voice, with which we are so familiar, not the voice of others, which may help keep us in our comfort zones but the voice of the one who is calling us each day into a new and gracious life.
Easter is the grand moment when we, both individually and collectively, hear that voice and are given new life not as a “therefore,” but as God’s gracious “nevertheless.”