I am still haunted by a long conversation I had with a man who was a member of one of my early congregations. He told me that one evening, returning from a night of poker with pals, he had a stunning vision of the presence of the risen Christ. Christ appeared to him undeniably, vividly.
Yet though this event shook him and stirred him deeply, in ten years he had never told anyone about it before he told me, his pastor. I pressed him on his silence. Was he embarrassed? Was he fearful that others would mock him or fail to believe that this had happened to him?
"No," he explained, "the reason why I told no one was I was too afraid that it was true. And if it's true that Jesus was really real, that he had come personally to me, what then? I'd have to change my whole life. I'd have to become some kind of radical or something. And I love my wife and family and was scared I'd have to change, to be somebody else, and destroy my family, if the vision was real."
That conversation reminded me that there are all sorts of reasons for disbelieving the resurrection of crucified Jesus, reasons that have nothing to do with our being modern, scientific, critical people.
Theologian Jurgen Moltmann says that a major reason for disbelieving in the truth of the resurrection is that, if the resurrection is true, then we cannot live as we previously have lived. We must change or be out of step with the way the world really is. If the world is not in the grip of death and death-dealers, how then shall we live?
--William H. Willimon - from The Best of Will Willimon, (Abingdon Press, 2012)
Taken with permission from the Bishop's Blog, North Alabama Conference, United Methodist Church.