Monday, March 09, 2009

A Living Resurrection

(Note: I am very technically challenged and I just discovered many comments that have not been published. I've published them all. Sorry.)

In keeping with the Lent theme (which I do not celebrate) it has become increasingly obvious that we observe the annual day of resurrection, commonly called Easter, as an historical event and not so much as a living power that drives our lives. The entire western world knows all about Easter, but how much resurrection power have they experienced by coming in contact with a living offspring of that same resurrection?

How many people are so moved by the wonder of our lives that they must ask us about “the hope that lies within us”? In so many ways we have made Christianity a religion, full of doctrines and organizational constructs, and have missed the weightier matters of the Spirit. Which is greater, the doctrines we espouse or the doctrines we live out?

And we are called to be grave diggers, that by the power of God’s gospel, preached and lived, are used of God to exhume dead corpses and breathe God’s very life and see the bones gain flesh and blood and join us as we go to another grave site. And so often we walk quietly by grave after grave with dry eyes and without the shovel of the Spirit, and worse yet some shovel more dirt upon the graves of the spiritually dead and call it “ministry”. Indeed.

I am old now and not in very good health but I long to have the Spirit do a fresh work in my life, one that will increase Christ and decrease me. A work that will, without manipulation and publication, lead those who know me to wonder what has happened.

* A work that drowns me in an ocean of forgiveness
* A work that opens new frontiers of grace
* A work that awakens me to a greater depth of God’s love
* A work that gives Scripture my life and not just my words
* A work that cannot be explained by facts and events
* A work that sees others high above myself
* A work that helps the Spirit touch people through me
* A work that both uses and insulates me in this very world
* A work that simply seeks, thirsts, and presses toward knowing Him

On April 12, 2009 most churches will observe Easter, and they will dress up and have palms and communion and many special pageantries to celebrate that event that changed everything forever. However let us not forget that today is a resurrection day for all of Christ’s followers. We are not bound by a date that changes every year, and we are not bound to an observance. We have most assuredly walked out of that same tomb, and we have come forth from the coldness of spiritual death.

We must be today’s representatives of today’s resurrection, you and I must be fresh from Joseph’s sepulchre today with the smell of resurrection power invading the dead air of our community. If we are different by today’s firstfruits then let it be known to all who we walk among that Jesus is alive forevermore, not just in April, but in the lives of all who have been changed by His resurrection power.

Have we not made the resurrection a point of doctrine and an annual observance and been blind to the glorious truth that it is surely not the day that we must observe but the Risen Christ Himself? And we do not observe the Risen Christ but He in reality lives through us. The “what would Jesus do” slogan should be “what is Jesus doing” as it pertains to our lives.

The resurrection does not approach, it is here, today. It beats in our spirits, it moves our hearts, and if released it can lift up the Son of God our Savior for all to see. And this question remains - What could God do through a people who did not see the resurrection as just an event, but also as a living personal experience? When will see us as bursting out from that tomb at the same moment that Christ came forth, and when will we see the eternal moment of that resurrection as fresh every moment of our very lives? Having our hearts attached to this world leaves us tethered to the inside of that tomb as dead men still lying on a slab shared by many.

But the resurrection must be manifested and revealed in such a dramatic way so as to elicit at the very least some interest, to say nothing of the power that is available. There is no life but Christ, and His life entered Bethlehem, walked in Galilee, died on Calvary, and rose triumphantly in a borrowed tomb. We are not just called to somehow defend the reality of that event, no, we are to live and breathe its reality through a life that should, must, reflect the unmistakable glory of being transported from death to life. The story is real, but the story lived out is as powerful today as it was in the lives of Peter and Paul. Our Easter pageants have been used of God to draw people to Jesus Christ, but every day should be personal and collective passion plays brought forth by the church of the living God.

Our story is that God came as a man, died for our sins, and rose from the dead to defeat the last enemy – death itself. God, the Creator of all things that are made, came and defeated the death we all fear, and we now are called to walk in the bold humility that both expresses its reality and our gratefulness. How excited would we be if indeed Christ had risen this very morning and we were returning from the empty tomb to spread the glorious news? What attraction would this world have to us had we just spoken with the Risen Lord on the Emmaus road? And what would interest us if we had just witnessed the Lord ascend from the Mount of Olives?

Men and women throughout the centuries have become so captured by this story that their very lives were His and His alone. The hazards of violence against them were opportunities to praise Him to be counted worthy to suffer for His sake. What do you give the Creator of everything? What would impress the One who is from everlasting to everlasting? He desires nothing but us…our lives. And those who lose their lives for Christ’s sake will find a life that they never dreamed existed. To live is Christ and to die is gain. So what can the world do to people who care nothing for their own lives and do not fear death?

The world is shaking, and everything that can be shaken will be shaken, and the human foundations of this present kingdom are crumbling. But in the midst of great fear and instability we, as the living creations of the resurrection, must be salt and light to the darkness of the world. We must show grace, we must show love, we must show redemption, and we must walk humbly in the ministry of that Good Samaritan, always watching the road for the battered lives of sinners ravaged by their own sin and the sin of others. Redemption is both our message and our lives, and we have an increasing opportunity to share both. Let us live the resurrected firstfruits, and as our lives are waved before God let us pray many seeds fall off our lives and get planted in the fields of people who are desperately searching for meaning and life.

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