What tickles me about the resurrection and ascension of Christ is the blatantly supernatural element of it all. “Come now,” the modernists say in their measured and rational tones, “must we believe that it was necessarily a crudely physical phenomenon? Surely the resurrection and ascension stories are beautiful tales told so that the dead Lord’s disciples might believe that their friend had spiritually risen and ascended…that his beautiful teachings somehow survived his physical death and that they would, as it were, remain enthroned forever in glory.”
This modernist teaching is gnosticism–a religion that is all spiritual truths and ethereal ideals, and the fruit of gnosticism is that the physical realm doesn’t matter. What really matters is the spiritual realm. The result of thinking that the physical realm doesn’t matter is that people therefore do whatever they like in the physical realm. They may respond (according to their personality type) with decadence or detachment. The may become either a connoisseur or a consumer. It doesn’t really matter–either way they don’t really believe that their response to the physical world makes a bit of difference eternally.
Belief in the physical resurrection and ascension, on the other hand, reminds us every moment that what we do with the physical world has everlasting repercussions. What I do with my body affects the state of my soul. What I do with my possessions affects my everlasting destiny. What I do with the world’s resources impacts my spiritual life. If I believe in the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, the Resurrection and the Ascension, then this created world matters. Matter matters.
In this I rejoice, for if Christ is lifted up, he will lift up the whole of the created order to share in his redemption…and that means me too along with this funny, rubbery, deaf, hairy-in-the-wrong- places, increasingly pear-shaped, lustful, gluttonous, body of mine.