“Is It Too Good To Be True?”
April 19, 2015
The Lord has risen!
He has risen indeed!
What a glorious, life changing, community changing, world changing truth this is! Yes, this is a glorious truth, but it is a truth that has to be lived out in the way we live our lives. We need to let the risen Christ make a difference in our hearts and lives and the way we live our lives, “finish the story of the resurrection”, so to speak, as we looked at on Easter Sunday, for people to believe that Christ has truly risen and that lives, the community, and the world can truly be changed by the power of the risen Christ.
Our scripture passages for today from Acts and Luke both tell about the
difference the risen Christ can make in our lives, the community, and the world. In the Acts 3 passage Peter explains the life changing power of the risen Christ, , and in the Luke passage the risen Christ convinces the amazed disciples to believe that He has risen and their lives and the world can be different because of His resurrection.
You know, one word that seems to describe our times and our society is cynicism. People are cynical. Many times people don’t believe what they are told or what they see. It is a sad sign of the times, but it it is very understandable. Most of us feel that same sense of cynicism that almost everyone else in the world feels. I can remember when leaders were trusted and followed in almost every circumstance. It’s not that way any more, is it? Leaders have to prove they deserve our trust before we follow them, and that is not that bad a thing, is it? We can all give examples of leaders who have proven that do not deserve our trust and not be god leaders to follow, so a healthy dose of cynicism may not be a bad thing. I can remember when Walter Cronkite, the news anchor, was known as “the most trusted man in America”. If Walter reported it, everyone believed it. But we don’t trust our news sources as much as we used to, and many times with good reason.
In many cases, the general rule of thumb is “if it seems too good to be true – . it is probably not true.” And, again, there are good reasons for this belief. We watch ads on TV or read them in magazines or newspapers and we see products that make outlandish claims. “This product will clean anything!” And we doubt that it will. It’s too good to be true. We read that scientists announce that the completion of the next phase in a project will help greatly in combating disease and disability. That’s good news! But too good to be true – we wonder – when the most prominent news is not the combating of disease but new diseases and epidemics like Ebola or the continued spread of AIDS or new strains of cancer that medicines are not effective against. It seems that we are a long way from victory in combating disease! The news of combating disease and disability seems too good to be true! The Justice Department announces that the number of violent assaults are down. That is indeed good news! Then they say that the number of deaths are up and explain that while there have been fewer incidents – fewer assaults – the assaults that have occurred have been more violent, the victims shot numerous times, and more people have died from the fewer number of assaults. The news of decreased number of assaults is, essentially too good to be true!
We have become used to this feeling of cynicism, this doubt of good news, to the point that for many folks today literally “NO news is good news” – they don’t believe good news and feel that at some point it will be proven to be wrong.
Cynicism is an underlying feeling of society today. Nothing is believed at face value and no one is trusted. So the initial feelings and the initial reaction of the disciples in our Luke passage for today is very understandable to us. This passage is the first appearance of Jesus to the group of disciples in Luke’s gospel. As Luke records the resurrection the women find the tomb empty and see angels but do not see Jesus. The other disciples probably thought the story of the women was – well – too good to be true! Jesus then appears to Cleopas and a friend on the road to Emmaus. It was this news the group was discussing, probably trying to understand, maybe arguing about it being too good to be true, when Jesus appears.
You can understand the fear and terror Luke describes! It must be a ghost! But Jesus shows them His body, which of course ghosts do not have, – and eats fish which of course ghosts do not do.
It is Jesus! The good news is not too good to be true but it is true! Jesus then explains to them the promises of scripture, promises that are not too good to be true but are true!
It is true! Christ has risen! It is true! God has overcome death! It is true! God’s will for life and peace and healing and wholeness can be accomplished! It is true! This is not something that is too good to be true but it is the best and most important thing we can know, and it is true!
But what about the world? To many people all this talk of Christ rising and God’s will for peace and healing and wholeness being accomplished is something along the lines of the miracle products we see advertised on TV — much too good to be true! Just as the disciples in the Gospels, many people need proof to believe that things can be different, that healing and wholeness can be accomplished, and that their lives can be different because Christ has risen. Many times our words don’t persuade them that this good news can be believed – they need to see it to believe it just as the disciples did.
Friends, we know the truth Christ has risen! God has overcome death! God’s will for life and peace and healing and wholeness can be accomplished! We need to show that truth to the world.
What finally persuaded the disciples that Christ had risen? It was His body. He showed them His body and ate fish. He was not a ghost but a bodily being, the bodily being of Christ! What can persuade those who need to experience it that Christ rose and because Christ rose God’s will for life and peace and healing and wholeness can be accomplished? It is Christ’s body – that is – the Church. We are the Body of Christ that reaches out into the world with the message that Christ has risen, God has overcome death, and God’s will for life and peace and healing and wholeness can be accomplished!
Each person that comes to us needing help, each person that does not find their way to us but that need help, persons we pass by every day, need to experience that the resurrection power of Christ, the new life we have in Christ, and the new opportunities we have in Christ is good news and is true. People who are lonely, people who are depressed, people who are hungry, people who are homeless, all need to hear an experience the good news and need to know that is not too good to be true!
Christ has risen! God has overcome death! God’s will for life and peace and healing and wholeness can be accomplished!
It is true!
It is up to us as God’s people, the Church, the Body of Christ, to take this message into the community around us and into the world and share it in specific words and specific actions
A story is told about two businessmen. They had been good friends in childhood but in adult years drifted apart. One was a shoe salesman. He was active in his church and always gave to special projects. If a family was in need, he would help them. Sometimes he would give them shoes and other times he would help in other ways. The other man thought this was silly and wondered why he would give away his products. Didn’t he know these folks took advantage of him? The two saw each other one day and the one who did not give asked the one who did why he did such a thing. “I want people to see Christ” he replied. The other began thinking about this, and before long he was helping others. In time the two were combining their resources and many in that town were being helped. A difference was being made.
Is this story too good to be true? Maybe so, but whenever we can reach out to others with the good news of Jesus Christ, God’s truth is being proclaimed.
We are the body of Christ reaching out into our community and the world with the unbelievable good news of new life and new possibilities because Christ has risen as we reach out to our community in many ways. For example, as we give out Bags of Love to the homeless, give cereal and oatmeal to CUOC, and make and send dresses to children in need in Nicaragua and Appalachia, we are the body of Christ reaching out into the world. We are also the body of Christ reaching out into our community and the world with the unbelievable good news of new life and new possibilities because Christ has risen as we volunteer at CUOC, meals on wheels, and other ministries that directly touch those in need. We are the body of Christ reaching out into our community and the world with the unbelievable good news of new life and new possibilities because Christ has risen as we reach out to others every day. You never know what difference a smile or a friendly greeting can make in someone’s life.
Christ has risen!
God has overcome death!
God’s will for life and peace and healing and wholeness can be accomplished!
Let’s share this good news, this good news that is not too good to be true, in all we say and do! Amen.