As our nation becomes increasingly secular, it also becomes increasingly ignorant of the spiritual traditions responsible for inspiring it. There's no time like this week to reaffirm what drove those first pilgrims to brave treacherous seas on the Mayflower and settle here "for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith."
Christians refer to this as "Holy Week" because it includes arguably the three most pivotal events of our faith. This is the third in a three-part series looking at each of those events, which will explain what they meant at the time and what they mean to us now — in 500 words or less.
The series isn't a definitive theological exercise, but an attempt to make the traditions that inspired liberty in America accessible to Americans once more. Hopefully this might inspire you to seek out more information.
Part 3 — Resurrection Sunday
What it is
The resurrection is how Jesus Christ proved that He alone is the Son of God by physically rising from the dead following the events of Good Friday. By leaving behind an empty tomb, He gave those who have a relationship with Him the power and grace also to have eternal life. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son [Jesus Christ], that whosoever will believe in him will not perish [die in their sins] but have eternal life [escaping the penalty for their sins in right relationship with God]." Furthermore, God sent His son into the world to confront us with the uncomfortable truth of our sinfulness "not to condemn the world, but so that through [Jesus], the world would be saved."
In other words, Christ disciplines us for the same reason our earthly parents do — because he loves us. It is not God's desire for any of us to perish in our sins, but for us to live forever with Him. The resurrection of Christ testifies to this. Yes, Jesus first had to satisfy the wrath of God on Good Friday. But once that wrath was satisfied, Christ was given authority to call us to new life with Him.
Why it matters
There simply isn't a Christian faith without the resurrection. If Christ didn't rise from the dead, then all of Christianity's claims are forfeit because they all center upon the lordship (divine authority) of Jesus Christ. If He didn't conquer the grave, then He's not Lord and Christianity is a false religion.
However, if Christ did conquer the grave, then He is Lord. In that case, Christianity's claims are the most important in human history and call all to account, regardless of their station, beliefs, preferences, etc. At that point, Christianity isn't a mere religion; it is the ultimate truth. As Jesus said, "For this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth."
What it means for us today
From the very beginning of the faith, conflicts have raged between Christians who believed in the supremacy of Christ and human governments that believed in their own supremacy. Such a conflict drove the original pilgrims to seek refuge here in the New World in the first place, because they wanted to worship and live as God commanded in the Bible — not as their earthly king preferred.
History is clear: Without the convictions of those who wanted to live as if Jesus was lord of all, free from the interference of tyrannical human governments, there would never have been a United States of America. Regardless of your current religious persuasion (or lack thereof), all of you reading this owe Christianity a debt of gratitude for the American exceptionalism you currently enjoy.
Therefore, it's only logical that if Christianity was instrumental in originally inspiring American exceptionalism, it's quite unlikely that America will remain an exceptional country without the continued influence of Christianity.