Sunday, April 04, 2010

RISEN?

We as Christians have an unusual fascination with the death of Jesus. I know that what Jesus did for us, on the cross, is an astounding act of love and sacrifice. Without this, none of us would have any hope, and yet Paul the Apostle declares that, "..if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." (I Cor.15:17)

I wonder if our fascination with his death has something to do psychologically with our view of what it means to be a Christian?

For instance, the modern church, especially in America, can't seem to go on enough about the death of Jesus. It seems that all the television preachers can talk about is the fact that, "Jesus died on the cross for your sins".

When a Christian person is interviewed on television or stands to talk about Jesus, inevitably the only thing they can find to say is that, "Jesus loves you and he died on the cross for your sins".

At times it all starts to sound monotonous and cliche. I can almost hear the lost saying, "So what?"

The message we send most loudly to the world is the idea that Jesus died.

Even the most prominent media message in our lifetime, Mel Gibson's mega-evangelistic "Passion Of The Christ", which was dubbed "The Greatest Evangelical Message in Two Thousand Years", was all about the death of Jesus. The resurrection scene at the end was so vague and quick that most of us, even those of us who know the story, were left going, "Huh? What just happened?"

At Easter this overt focus on the death of Jesus is most noticeable. For me, when we spend those two weeks before and after Easter talking about the irrefutable fact of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, it almost seems strange. Like, "Oh yeah! He DID rise from the dead, didn't he?", as if this most historically provable event is something we need to be reminded of, but only once a year.

This has got me thinking. Why is it that we focus so much on the death of Jesus and very little on the resurrection of Jesus? I mean, why isn't the resurrection the main thing we talk about? Why don't we go around proclaiming that "Jesus is Risen!" and argue with people about the fact that there's no refuting the fact of Easter?

Here's my theory:

We, the Church, are the Body of Christ. We are the physical representation of Jesus in the world today, and I think we're more comfortable being the "Body at Rest" than the "Body in Motion".

As the Body of Jesus, we're more comfortable in the dark of the tomb, wrapped in our own shroud, meditating on this death of our Lord, with the stone rolled shut across the door.

We ignore that what we are called to do, as the living Body of Jesus, is to go out and proclaim, demonstrate and testify with our lives the awesome miracle that "Jesus is Alive!" and that we are living examples of this fact.

What I long for is the day when we are bold enough to declare, as one people, with one voice, that Jesus is Alive, and that our conduct in the world would bear witness to this fact.

Our inactivity, our apathy, our aversion to serve others and live out the compassion of Jesus, sadly proclaims that Jesus is dead.

It's when we live for Him, when we continue to love the way He did, when our lives are in sync with His, that we proclaim by our actions that, yes, indeed, Jesus is really alive!

Is Jesus really alive? Has He really come to live in your life? And how would anyone know this to be true if you never actually demonstrated the life and love and ministry of Jesus in your own life?

Do we, as individual followers of Jesus, feel safer within the quiet of the tomb? Or are we willing, even eager, to roll away the stone and begin to live the truth of the power of the Gospel?

If we, the Body of Jesus, do not act as a living Jesus would, within this world, loving those He loved, sharing with those He spent time with, continuing His ministry of transformation, then we do not demonstrate that Jesus is alive, we simply testify that He has died.

What we must do is to wake ourselves from our slumber, shake off the apathy, and begin to proclaim, with our own lives, that Jesus is truly alive.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing."- John 14:12

"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."- 1 John 2:6

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

Peace,
Keith
www.keithgiles.com

**
Originally sent to the faithful subscribers of the [subversive underground] newsletter on Monday, March 20, 2006

1 comment:

Adam said...

The 'death focus' absolutely reflects our attitudes. I see it in the faces at our church...believers desperately looking for something to engage them. I see it in the mirror as well....

A verse that has settled on my heart for these last several weeks is 1 Peter 1:3:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead....

Not just hope by chance...like "I hope I don't get hit by a car", or "I hope I don't get the flu," or "I hope I get to Heaven". It's a "lively" hope. Next to that in my Bible I wrote "living, alive, active, breathing, exciting, unpredictable, animated, dynamic, energetic, vigorous, vivacious." That's my Hope, embodied by Jesus Christ, because He is indeed risen from the dead!

It's so easy to let my hope be a function of circumstances, of church services, of so many external things (things that always leave me questioning my faith and more or less empty), when our amazing, living, unpredictable, breathing, active, energetic (and all of those other things) Savior is the One who empowers me and offers everything plus more than I can possibly receive....my Lively Hope! May this Christ-liveliness motivate and energize and empower me to walk in the good works that I was ordained to do.