The Best & Worst Thing That Has Happened to You
Because of Jesus, what would have been bad news is now good news.
by DANIEL DARLING
EVERY MOVIE has a turning point. The moment when the momentum shifts — when the down-on-his-luck hero finally catches a break or when the evil antagonist finally finds justice or when (if you enjoy Hallmark holiday flicks) the handsome drifter gets the girl and saves Christmas.
The best story, though, is not found on TV or at the cinema. It’s the true story the Bible tells from cover to cover. The story of God’s creating a beautiful world and breathing life into humans He sculpted into His image. It’s the story of sin violently corrupting the cosmos and the human heart, turning brother against brother. It’s the story of God’s rescuing His people by pouring out His just wrath on His own Son who defeats sin, death, and the enemy powers by rising from the grave on the third day. It’s the story of Christ’s kingdom come to bear on the world, renewing and restoring all things and regenerating human hearts by His grace.
It is … your story if you are in Christ. This is what Paul is declaring in Ephesians 4:22-24 when he tells these beleaguered, first-century Christians “to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.”
Paul is saying that the turning point in the Christian story can be summed up in two words: But God. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses” (Eph. 2:4-5, emphasis added).
God has breathed new life into dead hearts. And even though day to day we live the reality of sinful life in a fallen world, we have the promise that one day we will rise again, body and soul. In a sense, Paul says we have died with Jesus and have risen with Him. In God’s economy of time, our future resurrection has already happened.
This is good news for Christians because it means that the worst thing that could happen to us has already happened: We died. It also means that the best thing that could happen to us has already happened: We rose again. This doesn’t mean we don’t lament death and sickness and pain in a fallen world. We do. But we don’t lament as others do, without hope: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13).
Even as we suffer physical pain or relational difficulty or financial problems, we do it with a kind of joyful longing, knowing that our resurrection is coming and has already happened: “Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body” (2 Cor. 4:7-10).
That is because the turning point in our story, rewritten by Jesus as part of His story, came in an empty grave in a Palestinian hillside 2,000 years ago. This is the greatest story forever told.
DANIEL DARLING is the vice president of communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. A former pastor, he is the author of several books, including his latest, The Original Jesus. He is a contributor to Leadership Journal, and his work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Washington Post, First Things, CNN, Relevant, and other publications.
This article originally appeared in Mature Living magazine (August 2017). For more articles like this, subscribe to Mature Living.