Monday, April 21, 2014

Seven Steps to Happiness

Another Easter post from 2010.

Just kidding. Did I get your attention? Actually, this post has nothing to do with any number of steps to anything. It's about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and what that means in our day-to-day.

A couple of days ago, I was reading a post by Keith Giles, titled "Risen?" I remember, while growing up in fundamental Baptist churches, hearing a lot about the death of Christ on the cross, but not a whole lot on the Resurrection. Resurrection was something reserved for the times the pastor preached on justification or why Christians worship on Sunday, or for Easter. The death of Christ is the loudest message that the church proclaims. Now, the death of Jesus on the Cross is essential. Because of the Cross, our sins are washed away and we are free. We must proclaim the Cross.

We forget however, that the death of Christ on the cross is only part of the Gospel. The rest of the story is that Jesus didn't remain dead. He walked out of that tomb, proving that he was indeed the Messiah. He defeated death, and began the restoration of all creation. As the Apostle Paul said, if Christ is not raised then our faith is useless. The Resurrection changes everything!

I wonder if one reason the death of Christ is the church's main message is the emphasis that is put on going to heaven, of life after death. In the circles I spent time in, everything was based on getting to go to heaven when you died. This life was seen as simply living according to the moral principles of whatever group you were a part of, keeping a "good testimony" so unbelievers would hear what we had to say, and staying "right with God." We were never taught that the Resurrection had any implications for life in the here and now.

If we believe that Jesus is raised from the dead, there are certain things that are true of us. We are raised with Christ. Death has been defeated. As N.T. Wright puts it, there is "life after life after death." We will live in a new creation, not just a disembodied state out there somewhere. We have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead at work in us. Let that sink in.

These things are not only in the future. They have begun. The Resurrection gives us the power to live as new creation now, in this life. The Resurrection means that God is restoring all things now, and that we get to be part of that restoration. Resurrection also means that the Kingdom has come. Jesus is Lord. That means that we live as citizens of the Kingdom of God right now, not just sometime in the distant future. Our allegiance is first and foremost to the King of Kings.

I don't know how all of this works out in the individual lives of followers of Jesus. There really are no steps to follow that will work for everyone. I've been thinking about what living in the Resurrection would look like in my life. I do know that I need to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading as I live in my day-to-day. I do know that I want to live as one who is risen with Christ, who is a subject of the King of Kings, who is part of the restoring of Creation.

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