Okay, so I’m just due to post something, anything. It’s that time of year when my body is up on the warm, sunny days and shouting passive resistance on the colder, damper, rainier days. I’ve just pushed through two very busy weeks in a row, and I just need to take a moment to breathe.
So many of us call this day Easter, at least in the Latin Rites and Protestant traditions (Orthodox siblings celebrate next Sunday). Those who believe in Jesus celebrate that His Crucifixion was not the end; He arose from the grave, left an empty tomb, was seen by hundreds, ascended into Heaven, and gave His Holy Spirit to set the world on fire. I’m not sure why we call it Easter, as the name has roots in pagan holidays (trying to be more inclusive?). I’m much happier thinking of it as Resurrection Day, but I digress.
After meeting with my church family and my mother’s church family (formerly my grandma’s church family), I’m feeling this vague dissatisfaction. Sure, I’ve got all the slogans in my head (like the rest of you):
- It may be Friday night, but Sunday’s on the way.
- He is risen! Alleluia, alleluia.
- It’s time for the birds to sing again.
- The evidence for the Resurrection demands a verdict.
- Death has lost its sting, and the grave is defeated.
But here, in the real world, where the Christian meets the pagan or atheist; where the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob competes for the affection of all with the false gods of Molech (success and position over life), Mammon (money and affection over people), Eros (lust over love and respect), Dionysus (partying and travel), Sophia (wisdom, knowledge, and intellect), et al.; where dark and light should be obvious and instead are muddled in a swirling puddle of confusion; what does Resurrection and life in Christ really mean?
I wish I could tell you for certain. I wish I could distill it into a short sentence that everyone would remember for years; that would pierce every human on the planet to the quick of their heart to choose love, love for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and love for all fellow man regardless of creed or race or health; that would ensure every soul from here on out for all eternity would have a beautiful afterlife. But if Jesus Himself couldn’t do it, I’m bound to fail, and fail miserably.
All I can tell you is it’s complex and never easy and always requires leading of the Holy Spirit to pull all the pieces together. Right now, I am thinking of so many Scriptures that tell me what it means. Some include:
- Romans 8:11 — When my well for life is dry and I have no desire to leave my house, the power of the Holy Spirit can give me the strength to do what needs to be done. He did if for Jesus, and He’ll do it for me if I’m within his will.
- Isaiah 1:18 — My Creator made me. No matter how sinful I get, if I choose to truly return to Him, He will cleanse me of every sin. He even appreciates that I might like to think; He actually invites me to use reason!
- Philippians 4:8 — Negativity is a constant risk in this world. I can through God’s Word inoculate myself against it, but it will take effort. I must figure out what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Then, I have to think about those things.
- Galatians 5:22-23 — The Christian walk is a complete package, not a puzzle that can be achieved piece by piece on my choosing. To truly reflect Christ’s glory, I have to have the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is a complete package. Fruit is singular, indicating that all those qualities are required to have the fruit.
- James 1:27 — I cannot just look upward to God for my relationship with Him; I must look at those in this world who have little. They have no physical goods, or they have no one in this world willing to defend them. It is my responsibility to find a way to step up and be the hero they need, the Jesus with skin on.
- Matthew 25:31-43 — This is scary to me. First, I can see me in the great throng on judgment day looking at where I am the crowd and where Jesus is, trying to remember this passage, and trying to triangulate to slip on over to the proper side if I’m on the wrong side (yeah, that won’t work in the presence of a perfect God, but I can imagine, can’t I?). In reality, this is a warning. We will be held as accountable for what we leave undone as what we do. Not only that, but we can be willfully blind to what is undone.
I could go on and on all night for pages and pages. The point is, if we Christians want our Jesus to be loved in this world, if we want others to believe that He is alive, if we want souls to give Jesus His rightful place in their hearts, we have to start with our own lives.
We have to know His Word to be able to apply it to our lives. To have His thoughts and His Mind, we have to walk to the beat of the rhythm of His Heart, living His love. We have to look at others through His eyes of mercy and choose to act accordingly. Our walk must align with our talk so we are not the modern hypocritical children of the religious leaders of His day, burdening those around us with high standards and legalistic checklists that have no life and no salvation, a yoke from which freedom is elusive and never found.
If we don’t choose to reflect the glory of the Risen Christ in our words and actions, His death and Resurrection are truly in vain. We crucify the Lord of Glory yet again. And that thought should overwhelm us with dissatisfaction and repentance and resolve and revival.