One of the great challenges we face each year at Easter is finding a new way to tell the familiar story. An approach I am taking in my sermon this Sunday is to highlight all the ways that, because of Easter, the risen Christ is doing today all that he has ever done. (You may download the PDF manuscript of my Easter sermon here in the hope that it might be helpful to your preparations this week.)
Another way to demonstrate the perennial relevance of the resurrection is to focus on our perennial need for what only Jesus can do. To this end, I found Ian Bremmer’s recent book, The Power of Crisis: How Three Threats—And Our Response—Will Change the World, to be eye-opening and on-point.
“The greatest threat to our collective future”
Bremmer is a well-known political scientist and voluminous writer. The central thesis of his latest book is compelling: “The world is still struggling to shake off the economic, political, and social effects of COVID-19, and more deadly viruses will inevitably plague us. Climate change will upend the lives of billions of people and threaten the sustainability of life on the planet. The greatest threat of all to our collective future will come from the unexpected impact of new technologies that change the way we live, think, and interact with other people and will determine our future as a species.”
He adds: “The next decade will see US–China confrontation, a future pandemic, unchecked climate change, and life altering technologies, each of which might do more to damage our species than any other crisis in history.”
Bremmer explains one reason we are in uncharted territory politically: From 1975 to 2009, we lived in a world “run mainly by the leaders of the so-called Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries—the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada.” However, “the formal end to the G sevens dominance arrived with the global financial crisis (2008–2010) emergency that made clear that no global problem could be solved without China and others at the table. It was the expanded Group of 20 (G20) that coordinated the crisis response. But the G20 is a large, diverse group of countries that don’t share common views on democracy and free-market economics.”
As a result, we are now in a kind of “geopolitical recession.”
For example, Bremmer notes: “None of us has ever lived in a world where the largest economy is governed by authoritarians. But that’s where we’re headed. And it puts the world’s two most powerful nations—the United States and China—on a collision course.”
“A central priority for the next generation of global leaders”
Bremmer focuses next on pandemics and future pathogens: “Scientists have discovered more than forty new lethal pathogens in the past half century that leapt from animals to humans; and the pace of new discoveries is rising as animals more often come into direct contact with ever-larger numbers of people in both developing and rich countries, where expanding suburbs and exurbs are encroaching on the animals’ habitats.
“That’s especially true of birds, whose flyways are now more often paved over to boost land development and who are more likely to land in populated areas or on farms at a time when viruses are moving back and forth at a growing pace among birds, other animals, and humans.”
He spends much of the book discussing climate change as well. For example: “We’ll be wrestling with COVID and its impact for years, but climate will occupy us for decades, and it will disrupt far more lives. Much damage is already irreversible, and managing the fallout will be a central priority for the next generation of global leaders.”
He notes that more than ninety US cities, most on the Atlantic or Gulf Coast, already face chronic flooding, a number that will double by 2030. About three-quarters of all cities in Europe, especially in Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands, will deal with floods created by rising sea levels.
He also discusses in detail the rising challenge from artificial intelligence, a subject on which I quoted him in a recent Daily Article.
All we need to experience our best life
In his first inaugural address, President Bill Clinton proclaimed, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” Bremmer’s book is abundant evidence for a contrary view: what is wrong with humans cannot be cured by humans.
Our political challenges are a symptom of our finite and fallen natures (Romans 3:23). The threats we face from pandemics, climate change, and unpredictable technological advances are a product of living as broken people in a broken world (Romans 8:22).
Because humans are depraved and because we live on a broken planet, we need resources beyond ourselves. The good news of Easter is that such resources are as available as our next prayer.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ means not only that his followers will be raised from the dead one day. It also means that his followers can experience his “abundant” life now (John 10:10). The most famous verse in Scripture promises that “whoever believes in [Christ] should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, my emphasis). Eternal life does not begin when we die—it began the moment we trusted in Christ as our Lord.
As a result, we can find in the risen Lord everything we need to experience our best life in our fallen world. His omniscience can guide our decisions; his omnipresence assures us of his compassion in our challenges; his omnipotence promises us the strength we need for our trials; his omnibenevolence guarantees that his will is always for our good.
This Sunday, as you announce that Jesus “is risen indeed,” you are also offering those you serve the privilege of personal intimacy with the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). The relevance of the resurrection has never been more urgent, or more powerful, than it is today.