Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.
This past week Doris & I attended a Crossroads Luncheon at Resurrection featuring an interesting presentation about President Harry S. Truman. (I know, I know. You are thinking I’m too young to attend a Crossroads event. (Um – Editor.) Tell that to my Optometrist’s Assistant, who, when I said we were going to Topeka this weekend to visit family, responded with, “Oh, how old are your grandchildren?” In her defense I was getting progressive lenses & had just complained about how cool they kept their office.)
One of the focal points of the talk was a brief discussion of President Truman’s faith. Considering all of the hot button issues of Truman’s presidency, it would have been fascinating to understand how his faith may have influenced his actions. (Consider this abbreviated list: his act to formally recognize the State of Israel, his push for the Marshall Plan in Europe, his order to integrate the Armed Forces, his response to the Berlin Blockade, his reaction to the invasion of South Korea by North Korea, & of course his decision weighing the use of the Atomic Bomb vs. saving American & Japanese lives from a death-filled invasion.)
Unfortunately, President Truman, like many of his generation, was rather reticent to about his faith. Some of his speeches referenced his beliefs like his statement, “The fundamental basis of this nation’s law s was given to Moses on the Mount. If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.” Or his call to service, “We must remember that the test of our religious principles lies not just in what we say, not only in our prayers, not even in living blameless lives – but what we do for others.” (Not all of his statements were quite so profound. He was also fond of saying: “The 1st lesson every boy should learn is to never kick fresh manure* on a hot day.”)
*Or some synonym, thereof.
As we consider today’s passage, I was drawn to Paul’s statement that, “He (Jesus) appeared to more than 500 brothers & sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”
While scholars have no qualms with Paul’s list of resurrected appearances, they do debate the details of this statement. Was this a gathering in Jerusalem or perhaps on a mountain outside of town? Was this the same crowd referenced in Matthew 28? Was this shortly after His resurrection or was it just before His ascension?
Skeptics point to Paul’s contention & wonder if Jesus did appear to over 500 believers, where is their testimony? Shouldn’t there be countless personal accounts confirming the validity of such an awe-inducing scene?
My view is that I’m not surprised at the lack of written testimony attesting to this appearance. Few in their culture were literate. Being counted as a follower of Christ at that time was extremely risky, even deadly. (Remember, Paul was so successful in crushing the early church in Jerusalem, he would soon want to add a franchise in Damascus.) The odds of such testimony being recorded, distributed & preserved would be astronomical. And finally, would repetitive statements of this scene really add much substance to the record of Jesus’ life & teachings?
On the other hand, while it wouldn’t impact my faith walk & while the skeptics would just find some other reason to doubt the validity of this scene, wouldn’t it be cool if some Bedouin discovered a jar filled with parchments or if a long-forgotten desert monastery had a written record of an eye-witness account of this event?
Flashing forward to today, we might be like President Truman & somewhat reluctant to talk about our spiritual walk. But what if our testimony could make a difference in the journey of a friend, colleague, or, someday, way off in the future, a grandchild? It needn’t be some carefully edited thesis with footnotes & indices. We could start with something simple like making notes about our favorite hymn or a fond Easter Sunday experience.
As a theologian noted, “Each of us is indebted to those who carried the faith from the past to the present; dare we do less for those who follow us?” I’m getting started on mine as soon as I get back from the Early Bird Dinner Special at Luby’s Cafeteria.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.