In the earliest days of Christianity, it was clearly understood that Christian faith was faith in the Resurrection. This is not to say by any means that it was faith simply that Jesus was resurrected – that you got into the church by simply saying, “Sure. I think he came back to life.” After all, by itself, someone coming back to life was not all that big a deal. Elijah had raised somebody from the dead. Jesus did it himself on several occasions. Nobody ever suggested that acceding to the fact in these cases demanded a response of life-changing faith from the witnesses. Sure, one certainly had to be aware that the power of God was working here. This wasn’t a natural occurrence. But by itself it didn’t need go any farther. And Christian faith went a lot farther than simply saying that something non-natural happened.
No, to say that Christian faith was faith in the Resurrection was to say that those who believed in Christ’s resurrection saw that things everywhere had changed because of that occurrence. It was a cosmic declaration. It was to say that the world was different, and that the powers of sin and death had been overcome. They no longer ruled, which is a pretty profound change in things as a whole. It is for that reason that St. Paul criticized certain members of the Corinthian church when they said they believed that Christ was resurrected, but as far as they were concerned that was as far as things went. If that were the case, he argued, we would be sadly deceived, because if that were all that were the case, then nothing would have changed for us. We would have been expecting a whole lot from the world and ourselves in a world that was, in fact, unchanged.
The point Paul wanted to make was that what God had in mind on Easter was something life-changing for us, and Christ’s resurrection was to initiate that change. Its point was our resurrection; its point was our freedom, and new and eternal life for us. So, in this case, Christian faith as faith in the Resurrection, is faith that in Christ’s resurrection the world has changed and that things have changed for us. Fear and sin and death are not to rule our lives anymore. We are free to be good – to be compassionate, to be patient, to devote ourselves to the Bread that alone satisfies. Faith in the Resurrection overflows to everything in life, and to a fundamentally different view of life than before.
All our confessions of faith include a confession of the Resurrection. But during this Easter season, we are going to make a small change in the Sunday liturgy to highlight the Resurrection. For the Confession of Faith, after the sermon, we will continue to use the Apostles’ Creed on baptismal Sundays and the Nicene Creed on communion Sundays. Other Sundays we will use certain canticles or hymns that were sung in the ancient church and which are quoted in Paul’s letters. Each of them in proclaiming and singing our faith center on the world-changing Resurrection. As you say them, pay attention to them closely, and see how much our faith is faith in the Resurrection.