I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, -- Philippians 3: 10 (NIV)
The Easter bonnets are put away. The big family meal is
over. Christians begin to return to their regularly scheduled routines. Mothers
Day is coming up followed by Father's Day and into the summer where we can
pause and be thankful for our country and soldiers on Memorial Day and the
Fourth of July. It seems sometimes as if the experience known as
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the singular most significant day in our faith -- period. Based upon what we believe we were on the outside looking in until God sent His Son to reconcile us back to Him. We were destined for hell, and eternal separation from God until Jesus Christ rose from the dead. While this can get lost amidst the chocolate bunnies and colored eggs, we need to pause long enough to thank God for sending His only Son to die for us while we were yet still sinners. Unfortunately with the rise of feel-good, bless-me theologies in the modern church things such as the cross, the blood of Jesus, and the resurrection are paid lip service before such a compassionate God. The Apostle Paul outlines for us in the key verse today three things we should be pursuing as believers regarding this pivotal moment in our faith.
The first thing we should want to know is the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is right there is unlimited power in the resurrection that is available for us in our walk. The first thing that makes it so powerful is that the greatest fear we have, death, has now been defeated!
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. -- 1Thessalonians 4: 13-14 (NLT)
Death no longer has any sting! Note that Paul differentiates
between believers and non-believers in terms of hope. If we remember back
before we were saved we will remember the feelings of despair and hopelessness
that permeated our lives. There is power in the hope God provides. But so many
Christians do not walk in the power Christ appropriated for them back on
"But don't be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! "Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. -- Matthew 28: 26-28 (NLT)
When we are bound by the things of this world then we are focusing on the wrong life. There is nothing man can do to us -- God has already saved us! But how do we get to the point where we are so enamored with this life that we lose our focus and mute the resurrection power within us? By ignoring the second thing we should be pursuing -- the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings!
Oh Reverend, don't talk to me about sufferings! I just want to know how God is going to bless me! I just want to know how God is going to improve my lot in life. As Barnes Notes on the Bible puts it:
"Many are willing to reign with Christ, but they would not be willing to suffer with him; many would be willing to wear a crown of glory like him, but not the crown of thorns; many would be willing to put on the robes of splendor which will be worn in heaven, but not the scarlet robe of contempt and mockery."
So many today want the position without the sacrifice. Many want to be called apostles and prophets but do not want the true burden those offices hold. Many want the appearance of super-spirituality without the relationship with Christ that is required. Realize what Jesus went through beloved. Flogged with weapons designed to rip the skin off of your back. Thorns shoved into his head until the blood dripped into His eyes. His beard ripped out. Forced then to carry a cross weighing upwards of 100 pounds -- carrying the very instrument He knew would be used to kill Him. All the while suffering the taunts and mocking of all around Him. The very people He was dying for -- ridiculing Him as He marched to His death. Oh Reverend, don't talk to me about the blood! I want a soft and easy bloodless religion! Let's be honest with ourselves. We can get upset if someone is sitting in our regular pew spot! I know people who have left churches because their feelings were hurt! Barnes Notes continues:
"To do this, is one evidence of piety; and we may ask ourselves, therefore, whether these are the feelings of our hearts. Are we seeking merely the honors of heaven, or should we esteem it a privilege to be reproached and reviled as Christ was - to have our names cast out as his was - to be made the object of sport and derision as he was - and to be held up to the contempt of a world as he was? If so, it is an evidence that we love him; if not so, and we are merely seeking the crown of glory, we should doubt whether we have ever known anything of the nature of true religion."