Something has gone awry in our culture when we begin to tell the Resurrection story from a narrative of “The Good Guy Wins”. We love seeing the good guys kick ass. We celebrate rugged heroes like Jack Bauer from the hit TV show 24 – even when they kill. There is that chuckle-inducing scene in the Avengers movie where Hulk (Good guy) flings Loki (Bad guy) back and forth like a toy with his brute strength. We laugh at violence, and because the good guy wins, it’s okay. So steeped in what Walter Wink calls, “the myth of redemptive violence”, we have subsumed the Easter Story into this framework.
In cultures where Christianity has become the dominant power, the resurrection of Jesus has been turned into the triumph of the victors. The way “Jesus is Risen” is proclaimed, it sounds like bragging – essentially one-upping those who disagree with us by saying smugly: we win. Easter is used as a trump card to threaten people into joining our side. Again and again, the Church tries to grow by dominating: passing laws discriminating others, fighting legal battles in the courts, using money and clout to sway people into a certain ideology. Easter celebrations at mega-churches get bigger and jazzier every year. We are like the disciples who just don’t get it: we argue and argue over which among us is the greatest.
We need to figure out how to tell a different story. More importantly, we need to live a different story. The Resurrection is not one where the Good Guy wins; it’s a story where nobody wins and then everybody wins. When the world is organized around dominant systems preserving their power through oppression, like the Roman Empire, or structured by religious gatekeepers drawing lines in the sand between us vs them, like the Jewish authorities, the end result will always look like violence and death, like the cross. When Christ bore all of that violence and was raised from the dead, God snatched us out of the old story and put us in a new era.
The hope of the resurrection ushers us into a better way. A way of love and forgiveness, a way to serve, a way where everyone wins. The Resurrection is not a trump card in our game, it was a revision of the rulebook. It was the game changer to ensure everyone wins.