Archpriest Daniel Kovalak
“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
In God’s “strategic plan” for the life of the world and its salvation, He decisively intervened, in Person, “trampling down death by death.” In the radiant light of Jesus’ glorious resurrection, darkness is overcome, creation is renewed, disappointment and despair no longer have the final word, sorrow is turned to joy and death has lost its sting. There is hope for all because Our God lives!
In his youth, the popular Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis, boastfully declared his belief in no religion, saying they were all myths created by man. Years later, as he considered the implications of Christ’s resurrection, he experienced a heartfelt conversion. In a reflection entitled Surprised by Joy, he wrote, “No word in my vocabulary expressed deeper hatred than the word interference. But Christianity placed at the center what then seemed to me a ‘transcendental Interferer.’ There was no region even in the innermost depth of one’s soul which one could surround with a barbed wire fence and guard with a notice: ‘No Admittance.’ And that was what I wanted; some area, however small, of which I could say to all other beings, ‘This is my business and mine only.’”
Here, Lewis expresses the sentiments of many today which are seldom spoken. We all want to feel independent, safe and secure in ourselves; to fence ourselves in and say to others and even to God, “Back off! Don’t bother me. Leave me alone.” Indeed, we have the right to say this.
But our crucified and risen Lord—the “Transcendental Interferer”—also has the right to step into our human situations, relationships, circumstances, schedules and plans to pursue us with His divine Love and persistent mercy. As He says to the self-satisfied Church of Laodicea, so He says to us: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelations 3:20).
Are we willing to open the door and invite into every aspect of our lives Him Who is incessantly knocking, knowing full well His Almighty presence will “rock our worlds,” challenge our status quos, and interfere with our personal agendas?
After Our Lord raised His friend Lazarus from the dead, His critics posed a significant question to one other: “What shall we do, for this Man works many signs?” (John 11:47). This is a question with which every generation—indeed every soul—must wrestle. How do we welcome and respond to “this Man;” this “Transcendental Interferer?”
The early Church knew exactly what to do! Not only did they invite the Knocking Christ to fully enter and transform their personal lives, but as the new “Body of Christ,” they proceeded to preach, teach and invite all to do likewise. And their enthusiastic and resolute conviction bore amazing fruit; the Lord multiplied the believers and added to the Church, daily. So persuasive and convincing was the testimony and living witness of the apostles that they were accused of “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
This is the faith we must each rediscover and apply to our busy lives and troubled times—the Paschal faith that rolls away the stones from our self-imposed tombs and shouts with David, “Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered.” This is the faith that responds eagerly and joyously to the incessant knocking of the Transcendental Interferer and opens the door to His Divine Love and persistent mercy.
By His abundant and amazing grace, the Risen Lord is still knocking. He stands ready to fill us with faith, light, hope, forgiveness, mercy and love—to interfere in our lives in wonderful and extraordinary ways—if we but open the door!
“Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:3-4).
(Archpriest Daniel is rector of Holy Cross Church, Williamsport, PA, a Missionary, an Instructor at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary, and a frequent contributor to many publications).