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Your Unbelieving Friend Should Care about the Resurrection

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One response some people give to the resurrection of Jesus is apathy. To them it’s insignificant. They think like this: “Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t. Who cares? It’s ancient history, and it’s irrelevant to my life.”

If you’re a Christian, how might you respond to a friend, or anybody else, who takes such an apathetic view of such a monumental event?

Here’s one answer: “If you seriously analyze the evidence for the resurrection, you might change your mind about whether or not it matters. The evidence is powerful, but most people are unaware of it.”

To answer this way, of course, implies that you know some of the evidence and can point people to it. It helps to study a bit and have a few online links and book suggestions that you can send to your friend, like these:

But don’t just throw these resources at people and wish for the best. These are good tools, but it’s better to use them in the context of discussion and relationship. Inform your friend that serious scholars have determined that there is serious evidence in favor of the resurrection. Highlight some of the more powerful evidence, like the fact that women found the tomb first and the disciples were willing to die for their belief that Jesus rose from the dead.

If your friend says, “But I still don’t care,” then she betrays a cavalier attitude toward a mountain of evidence. It’s like saying, “There’s strong evidence that a hundred million dollars is buried under my house, but I don’t care. Who’s got time for that?” Really? If there is strong evidence, then she should care and explore the evidence further. Whether she realizes it or not, this issue will have a profound impact on her daily life.

Tell her that if Jesus rose from the dead, then we live in a certain kind of world. But if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we live in a very different kind of world. Though it may not feel like it, everything in our lives hinges on the resurrection. For example, if Jesus rose, then apathy and agnosticism are extremely dangerous.

Don’t Just Sit on the Train

Imagine Ben, a passenger on a train, minding his own business, headphones in place. Sitting in the next seat is William, who suddenly turns to face Ben. Noticeably disturbed, he clutches his phone with a grip of fear and says, “My wife just texted and said there’s a news report about our train—we are in danger. A bridge has been washed away by a flooding river, and we’re heading for it. According to my wife’s GPS, it’s about ten miles down the track from here. We have to stop this train now!”

Ben lowers his headphones and considers the troubling report. Behind him another passenger named Mary rebukes William. “Don’t be such an alarmist,” she says. “My family also heard the news and said that the bridge has sustained some damage, but it’s only minor. It will hold the train. We have nothing to worry about!”

At this point, Ben is officially an agnostic about the condition of the bridge. That is, he honestly does not know. He is uncertain about whether to believe William or Mary. But he is also horrifically aware of his need to research the data and come to a conclusion. Ben’s agnosticism is insufficient, dangerous, and potentially deadly.

Agnosticism and apathy about the resurrection of Jesus is also insufficient, dangerous, and potentially deadly (even eternally deadly). Because of this, people should analyze and consider the evidence closely and carefully. Just sitting on the train of life and hoping for the best is not wise.

Merely Saying “Peace and Security” Is Insufficient

Jesus’ resurrection implies that there is a powerful God who exists and speaks. It tells us that we live in a world made by a Creator who cares about us as human beings. It gives great credibility—divine credibility—to everything Jesus said. Therefore, we should listen to him carefully.

Here’s one thing Jesus said: “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:37). This means that God intends to bring severe judgment in the future upon sinful humanity. There is a bridge out, and we’re heading directly for ruin at a high speed. The devastation will be tremendous (Lk 6:49).

People who don’t care whether Jesus rose again are playing with fire. They pretend as if they’re not riding the train of life, as if they can avoid being involved with God’s activities in the world.

To make matters worse, there will always be people (like Mary in the story) who encourage apathy and agnosticism. They say, “Relax. Everything is fine. There’s no God. And if there is, He’s obligated to be nice to all of us.” But, the apostle Paul responds, “While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them” (1 Thess. 5:3).

Who should your friend believe? Should she listen to the skeptics of the world who say “peace and security,” or should she trust the risen Christ and the Word of God? Who has more credibility?

Resurrection Means Possible Rescue

Not only does your friend need to hear the bad news that an eternal bridge is out, but she also needs to hear the good news of possible rescue. If Jesus rose, we live in a world where lost sinners can be saved forever by God’s grace: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

In union with Christ, your friend can survive the coming judgment. That’s better than finding a hundred million dollars buried under her house!

All of this shows that your unbelieving friend should at least care about the resurrection. Apathetic agnosticism is not a viable option. It’s dangerous at best and eternally deadly at worst. Encourage your friend to study the evidence, discuss it with you, and seek the truth. Blindly riding the train of life will never do. Rescue is possible:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”(John 11:25–26)

Jason Dollar serves with Christian Medical Ministries of Alabama (CMMA), a ministry of Briarwood Presbyterian Church. He is an experienced pastor and author of several books including Law and Grace: The Basics and Drowning Swine. He is also the editor of several updated versions of Jonathan Edwards' works including Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and The End for Which God Created the World. He blogs at Glory Focus. Jason and his wife Page are blessed with five children.
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