His name was Brennan Manning. He left the Catholic priesthood to follow God more closely—plus, he’d fallen in love with a woman and they wanted to marry. He struggled his entire life with alcoholism and self-hatred, among other things. And he wrote a book called The Ragamuffin Gospel, which has been an encouragement to so many believers.
But for me, it was one of his other books, Abba’s Child, that made the biggest impression on me, because it introduced me to a phrase that has stuck with me since I first read it: “For me the most radical demand of Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ” (emphasis, mine).
The present risenness of Jesus Christ is the belief that the resurrection isn’t limited to either the past or the future, but that His power is always present tense, always active. Jesus is here, right now, right here. Actually believing that radically affects the way we live because resurrection is all about LIFE.
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live.
Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26).
That’s what Jesus said to Martha in the thick of her grief over losing her brother, Lazarus. Scripture tells us “Jesus wept” over His friend’s death, grieving with the rest of the community (v.35). Then Martha and Mary, the disciples, and the people of Bethany—they all witnessed the radical resurrection power within Jesus when He said, “Remove the stone…. Lazarus, come out!” (vv.39,43). And Lazarus did just that.
The present risenness of Jesus Christ (remember, this miracle was prior to the cross) transformed that day from something absent of hope to something brimming with wonder. And that power is still present in our lives today, whether we’re leaving an established path to follow a new horizon, struggling with an addiction we just can’t seem to outrun, pursuing a romantic relationship with someone, writing books, raising children, burying the dead, witnessing the miracle of babies being born, or tending to the old as they take their final breaths. Every aspect of our lives is shot straight through with meaning because of the present risenness of Jesus Christ—right here, right now. Because He said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” we can courageously face any and all things with confidence, as we partner with Him in His redemption of the world.
Written by John Blase