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A viral resurrection

By Nathan Decker

Ultimately we know that the other side of every fear is freedom.”

– Marilyn Ferguson

When I was a kid we were afraid. I remember watching the movie “The Day After” in 1983. The made- for-television movie displayed the before and after or a Soviet nuclear attack on Kansas City, Missouri.

Art reflects life just as much as life reflects art. In 1983 we were afraid of “the Russians.” I played video games where they were the bad guys. I watched movies where Rambo destroyed their whole army as a one-man killing machine. Fear pushed us to the limits. We believed that at any moment the whole world would be destroyed by someone on the other side of the globe pushing the red button.

Fear is a powerful emotion. We fear what we can’t control. We fear what we believe can harm us or those we love. We fear the unknown. More than any emotion, fear is used as motivator and manipulator. After Sept. 11, 2001, we were so afraid that we were willing to give up liberties and start a never-ending war on an ideology so we could be safe or at least live in the illusion of safety. Fear is the second emotion mentioned in the Bible (loneliness is the first) when Adam tells God why he was hiding — “because I was afraid.”

Today, we are afraid. We’re afraid of one another. We’re afraid of touching lest we might catch the COVID-19 virus. We’re afraid of sharing because we might offend someone. We’re afraid of listening to someone who disagrees with us; they might change our mind or show us a new perspective! We’re afraid of our own government no matter which political party is at the helm. And we’re afraid of running out of toilet paper.

“Don’t be afraid.” This phrase occurs in the Bible 365 times, one for every day of the year. “Don’t be afraid,” God told Abraham as he began his journey to see the promised land. “Don’t be afraid,” God said to Moses as he stood before the Pharaoh of the superpower nation of Egypt. “Don’t be afraid,” the angels said to Mary and Joseph. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus said to the disciples in the boat. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel said on Easter morning when they came to the empty grave.

Fear is contagious. When we give in to fear, we give in to death and “it is what it is” mentality. We hand over the power God has shared with us to evil and apathy. Fear is contagious, but so is the Resurrection. We seek to die with Christ so that we may rise with Christ. Grief turns to joy, sorrow to dancing, and fear to courage. When the women leave the tomb on Easter Sunday, they leave with a positive viral infection.

Have you caught the viral resurrection? The symptoms are easy to diagnose. You find it in folks who are singing, “He lives!” and “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!” You can see it on their faces as they express tears of joy and smiles of thanksgiving for salvation. When you see transformation from stingy hard hearts to generous love, when you meet remarkable changes for the betterment of all, and when you hear someone simply saying, “thank you, Jesus” — that’s a sign of the resurrection. Rise. Rise above the fear. Rise above chaos and petty politics. Rise with love and renewal in your heart. Rise conquering death. Don’t be afraid. Rise. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.”

– The angel to the women at the tomb in Matthew 28:5