But what does the resurrection mean for us? Some have criticized Yoder as focusing too much on cross and not enough on resurrection. Those who have read him closely and broadly, however, will realize that this is a mistake, and one that Yoder refutes here. The new life of the Christian community rests on the new creation initiated with the resurrection of Jesus. The life of discipleship is, as the Schleitheim Confession puts it, for those who have "learned to walk in the resurrection." Thanks to the resurrection, Christians are empowered to walk in newness of life even in the present. This doesn't mean Christians are perfect in the present. But we dare not limit the power unleashing both in the resurrection and at Pentecost. To do so would amount to a functional denial of the resurrection.
I appreciate Yoder's point here. I worry that good Protestants often are so worried about emphasizing sin that we underemphasize the resurrection. Our faith is not in the inherent goodness of human nature; our faith is in the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The power of the resurrection affects the moral choices that we are confronted with on a daily basis. I can't do better than summarizing Yoder here: "The resurrection in the actual, historical experience of the disciples meant that when the cause of God seemed utterly defeated, it was not. The universe is not closed. For a Christian, there is no such thing as a dilemma [where one is forced to do evil]. Certainly there are difficult moral problems. There are situations in which it is not easy to see that one way through is much better than the other. But the Christian is never condemned to doing wrong because nothing else is possible. In fact, no one is ever thus condemned. Christians, of all people, should know that. The resurrection was not a unique accident but the revelation of who God is and how God operates. There was only one resurrection of Jesus, but every time an individual comes to Christian faith, as the apostle [Paul] has been telling us, there is another resurrection. The God we serve is a resurrecting God; we live from that daily."
Too often, Christians act as though we have to commit "necessary evils." Theologically, though, "necessary" is precisely what evil is not. God didn't make the world this way, we did. The path of suffering love, forgiveness, and resurrection is what God does in the face of "necessary evil, " and as Paul notes in Philippians 3, our hope for the resurrection in the future is directly connected to our willingness to embrace the cross and resurrection in the present. Though it may seem a bland, black-and-white approach to a watching world, the resurrection life is a technicolor new creation cast by the light of the empty tomb. With the first dumbfounded disciples, Christians continue to confess that we're not in Kansas anymore.