Written by Philip Nation, Thomas Nelson Bibles Publisher
Easter is the moment for many people to renew their faith. For those who have strayed, they come home. For those who are faithful, it is a time of deepening. As a holiday, it actively proclaims that spiritual transformation is possible. In it, we find our movement from death to life. Easter Sunday is the reminder that we are a resurrection people.
But the Easter of 2020 is unlike anything humanity has experienced in a long time.
The phrase “social distancing” was one I’d never heard of two months ago and now use daily. With intentionality, we are separated from one another. Ordered to stay at home or shelter in place, I’ve been on more Facetime, Skype, Zoom, and WebEx meetings to last a lifetime. I miss seeing family and friends. At this point, I just miss going anywhere besides the occasional social distancing walk around my neighborhood.
And, on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I will miss gathering with my church family.
The people who are experts in the field of infectious diseases say that we are living through a global pandemic. It is not a matter to be taken lightly. Though I’d love to go to the mall, grocery store, and the theater, it’s simply not safe. Instead, it’s a matter of life and death. And, I realize that death has touched some of you personally. You’ve lost a family member or a friend. The looming grief brings Easter into an even clearer focus. The power of resurrection is what you long to experience.
As people of the Christian faith, though the circumstance is unprecedented to us, it is not a foreign concept to us. We consistently deal with these exact issues: life and death. After all, we are people of the resurrection.
Sadly, too many people miss this about the Christian faith. They will log on or tune in to an Easter service this year out of fear, tradition, guilt, or family ritual. But, then again, too many people do this every week. Rather than see the message of the resurrection as the necessary message of our lives, their cyber-attendance will be treated like a lucky charm or proof that God should spare them. Simply because “it’s the thing to do,” ritual will replace heartfelt worship.
But we are told plainly in 1 Corinthians 15:14 (NET), “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty.” Without the resurrection, the whole of what the church does and says is in vain. As you enter into this Easter celebration, allow me to offer you three ideas to consider.
Easter emphasizes hope. The resurrection is more than just mere wishing, fantasy, and hopefulness. It is the power of Jesus’ resurrection that gives us new life. Hope literally comes to life and it is that hope by which we live. Now, as we live through one of our times’ greatest crisis, live by the power of the resurrected Lord in us. We must carefully guard ourselves from slipping back into a dull moralism or attempting to bargain with God. No more: “I promise to be good if, God, you will keep me healthy.” Instead, remember that God has welcomed us into His family by the resurrection and it is by it that we must now live out our faith. Even when that faith is tested by a global crisis.
We have the greatest news possible and we need to say it out loud. And, not just our pastors during worship services. The resurrection is the good news that people need in this time. We know that all organizations are weakened by “mission drift.” With believers, we drift from our mission when we stop discussing the gospel in favor of simply doing good deeds for others.
We are in one of the greatest moments of gospel-proclamation that will occur in our lives. Christians must choose to be prepared and emboldened to discuss our Savior and His great work on our behalf. While you serve neighbors, check on family members, and, perhaps, find ways to tangibly serve those in need, do so with the news of the resurrection as your motivation and your message. To be resurrection people, we must invite others to experience its power. It is the issue for which we should be our most persuasive.
Jesus made it clear that history will one day come to an end. Plus, He made it clear that we will not know when the end will come. As believers, we are waiting for more than just the end. We await the final resurrection when everything will be made new again.
The coronavirus pandemic puts on display just how broken and battered our world truly is. People hoarding everything from food to toilet paper reveals how desperately we need to be made new by Christ’s redeeming work. As Christians, we live with the end in mind. Resurrection people have the greatest of all hopes. Live in that hope every day you have remaining on the earth.
The philosopher C.S. Lewis once wrote, “One must keep on pointing out that Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important” (from God in the Dock). The dire conditions have shaken humanity to its core. It is in these dark days that we can be people of light and life. We can, once again, proclaim and prove the “infinite importance” of the resurrection.
This Easter, as with every Easter, may we live and worship as resurrection people.