I wanted to offer a few words as Orthodox Christians around the world are experiencing Paschal joy, rippling across the time zones with shouts of exultation in the glory of Christ’s rising from death.
I’m not sure why, but this year in particular I have strongly felt a sense of the pervasiveness of the power of the resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps it is because I have been visited by death in the loss of those very close to me. Perhaps it is because I have had some new opportunities to die to myself. Whatever the case, if it really is true that we are subject to bondage because of the fear of death (Heb. 2:15), then that means that resurrection sets us free.
If I know that, because Christ rose from the dead, I will also rise, then that means that all of my petty fears and even my big fears, which finally are summed up in the fear of death, do not have to hold power over me.
It is when I am concerned about the impingement of others or of circumstances upon my space, upon my desires, upon my preferences, that the fear of death overtakes me, and I am in bondage to my own desires. Ironic, isn’t it? We think that it’s freedom to be utterly unrestrained to pursue our desires, but we are actually enslaved to them, enslaved to every impingement. Every little impingement is a little death, a threat to my identity, a threat to the simulacrum I have incubated and grown in the vat of my expectations, that false self that I mistake for my actual self.
And so I lash out. Because this is not what I want. Because this is the death of that false self I hold so dear.
But resurrection changes everything. My false self can die a thousand deaths at the hands of time, circumstance, competition, and even outright enemies, but I will be raised. I will be raised by the power of Christ’s rising. I will be raised by the same love that flowed into the stinking tomb of Lazarus. I will be raised by the love of the Son of God Who became like me and suffered that one great death so that I could live.
That is why I can forgive all by the resurrection, why I can call brothers even those who hate me. Because I understand that it doesn’t matter what happens to me.
O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Do to me what you will. I will rise with Him.