As I was drinking coffee on Easter Sunday morning, I took the common risk of picking up my phone to scroll through my Facebook newsfeed. One of the first posts that I read was from a friend making the assertion that there was no way one could be a Christian if one did not hold a certain position on the reproductive rights of women.* Of course, this person is not the only friend of mine who has made such statements on social media. I have read countless posts from others asserting that one cannot be a Christian unless one believes “this” or “that.”
Then, I went to church and heard the good news:
“But the angel said to the women: ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here!’ (Matthew 28:5-6 NRSV).
The good news is: “He is not here!”
We cannot keep Jesus sealed in a tomb or behind four walls. We cannot keep Jesus in any little box we construct. We cannot keep Jesus confined to our limited and shallow understanding of the world and this mystery we call “life.”
“He is not here.” He cannot be retained in any enclosed tomb we devise. He cannot be locked up in any particular doctrine, creed or confession we write. He cannot be limited to any political ideology nor constrained to any religious belief.
Yes, perhaps the best news of all is: “He is not here.”
His love is bigger than we can imagine, and his grace is beyond anything we can create. His peace is beyond all understanding. With Jesus, there are no limits, no restrictions, no boundaries. The stone has been rolled away, and “he is not here.”
Then, where is Jesus? From what Matthew has taught us, I believe we know where.
Jesus is with the stranger, the sick, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked and the imprisoned. He is always with the least of these among us.
Jesus is with those who have been ostracized from community. He is with the outsider, the left out and the shut out. He is especially with those the self-righteous have labeled “not Christian” because of certain political or religious beliefs.
The good news is, that no matter what you may read on Facebook, Jesus is always with all of us, “to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NRSV).
* For my thoughts on women’s reproductive rights read: Why This Christian Pastor Is Pro-Choice: It’s Personal.