Shawshank Redemption is my favorite movie. It has lots of great scenes and lots of great lines. At one point Red says, “You got to get busy living or get busy dying.” It’s a kind of creed that comes up again at the end of the film. The whole movie is about hope so in other words, “Live in Hope or Die without hope”
The Easter message is summed up there. Before the passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ mankind had no hope. There was a short human life; then death. That’s it. Of course some of the old pagan religions held to a kind of afterlife, and some, like the Egyptians went to great lengths to ensure they were properly prepared for the afterlife, but there was no real hope that death could be defeated–just the tired old routines of trying to appease the gods and somehow work the magic that would help you believe that you just might make it to a happy life in the great beyond.
But when all was said and done there was no real hope because there was no evidence that the magic worked. The old gods were silent. The priests were impotent. The pyramids and temples and ziggaurats had crumbled. The in the Spring time of the year comes Christ the Tiger. The Lion of Judah arises. The Great Aslan. The radiant, golden-maned beast who rises like the sun or like a bridegroom emerging from his chamber.
The fact of the matter is that Christ rose from the dead. History was changed forever. Religion was changed forever. Humanity was changed forever. If one man rose, then all men might rise. If one man really conquered death, then death was conquered. It is therefore vitally important for all men to consider the claims and decide if they could possibly be true, for if they are true, the Christian faith must be considered seriously, and if they are not true, and if Christ did not rise from the dead then our faith is in vain. Evidence for the resurrection is beyond this short post, but those who wish to be reminded of the astounding evidence for this astounding claim need only go here and here.
If the resurrection of Christ is a historical fact, then we have a choice. We can get busy living or get busy dying. In other words, we can follow the path of Life or follow the path of Death. The path of Life is one that accepts the resurrection by faith and steps out to follow Jesus Christ as the Lord of Life. This path is a path of hope, a path of peace, a path of forgiveness and a path of joy. It is a proven path trod by millions of ordinary people down the ages. It is simply a new way of living opened up by the fact of the resurrection. It is available to all through baptism, faith and membership of Christ’s Church.
The other alternative is the path of Death. The path of Death can be followed in two different ways: the Epicurean or the Stoic. These two classic philosophies assume that there is nothing after this life. Therefore, the Epicurean lives for pleasure in the present moment. “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die.” While it is possible to follow this path in a crude and decadent manner it is also possible to follow it in a refined and tasteful manner. You can be an Epicurean by either loving porn, pizza and mud wrestling or by loving grand opera, haute cuisine and high class ladies. The stoic response to the fact of death is to live a dignified life of service to one’s fellow man–hoping to leave the world a better place than you found it. Both philosophies end in despair.
Only the way of life can lead to true hope, true love, true peace and true joy in this life and the next. So in this Easter Season, decide again: Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying.