Occasionally, I blog about my Christian faith. Particularly around Easter and this year will be no exception. If you have come here looking for SQL Server or Professional Development content, there will be some next week.I do this as a way of encouraging, witnessing and sharing, not to offend or annoy. If you are offended by such posts, I respect your decision and freedom to not read it and I ask for that same respect of my off topic sharing here. I always make sure to tag and categorize my thoughts on my faith with the “Bible” tag so you easily see what I’m writing about. The titles give it away also
It Is Resurrection Week!
This is the week where Christians throughout the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a week where we solemnly reflect on the sacrifice He made on the cross for us. It is my favorite week – not because I don’t reflect on these things throughout the year (I certainly do as do most who have been forgiven by receiving the free gift of salvation Christ offered on the cross and proved through His resurrection) but because it is a time of a special and concentrated focus on these acts.
This is my third year blogging some of my thoughts on the topic. In the first year, I focused on the Cross and a meaning of the word Tetelestai shouted from the cross of Christ. Last year I talked about what was Good about “Good Friday”. This year through reflection, messages and prayer I’ve felt led to talk about living in the “shadow” of the empty tomb. If my disclaimer above wasn’t enough, I’ll ad one more – Like my “best practices” and “pet peeve” posts, I’ll remind you that I am in need of what I am typing. If I were preaching, I could say “I’m preaching more to myself here”. If you feel called out, then consider yourself in the same spot as me.
Taking 1 Corinthians 15 14-19 A Different Way
Last week, I shared a lesson with the AWANA kids in the T&T group I help lead. I talked about Some of the proofs of the resurrection and some of the people whose lives were given to Christ as they set out on missions originally to prove the resurrection false and were overwhelmed with the supporting evidences. I then asked them if the resurrection was really that important. If we’d still have a reason to go on in our faith apart from it. After confusing them a bit, I suggested we see what Paul had to say about that while writing under Inspiration in the verse listed below (NASB):
14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15:14-19
Here Paul was making a case for the concept of resurrection. He was talking to a church that had some concepts wrong and this was one of them. He was reminding them that if there were no resurrection then Christ could not have been raised. And if Christ is not Risen then… Well then you get everything he talks about in these verses –
- The Preaching of the Gospel (Good News) of Christ is in vain (v14) – The word used for vain connotes empty, foolish, futile.
- Theirs (and my) faith is in vain (v14)
- They were liars (v15)
- They were still in their sins, still under the penalty of their sins (death – cf. Romans 6:23) (v17)
- The dead who died knowing Christ are perished. They’ve received what they deserve for their sin (v18)
- They were to be pitied – they’ve wasted their lives hoping in Christ (v19)
That was the lesson from AWANA – Life without the resurrection. Why it is central to Christianity. If Jesus Christ did not come out of that grave on the third day, then it is all for not. Christianity falls apart completely. We become no different than many other religions – worshiping a dead man who has no power over death, no power over sin. In fact Christ would be a liar if he never came out of that tomb. I believe the Resurrection happened, I don’t hold my breath with worry every time the Discovery channel has a new documentary that they claim will shatter this belief (I don’t even get excited when secular scholars cast huge shadows of doubt of their findings a couple weeks later 😉 ). As many of my favorite hymns declare – The grave could not contain Him. Death’s sting was taken away when Christ arose. The victory of the grave, the power of sin – both vanished.
So Where’s The Different Take On the Passage?
Okay. So those points I pulled out are the ones we always talk about when we talk about this passage. I wanted to talk about something I feel challenged by, though. Maybe you do, maybe you will. I heard this question recently, I can’t recall where though. It was basically “Okay. The resurrection happened – what are you doing with it?” Ouch. The Resurrection happened. What are you doing with it? I’ll ask that question of us – How are we different as a result of the resurrection? How are we living in light of an empty tomb? If I were to give an honest assessment of Mike Walsh, I’d say there are some places I “get it” – there are some days I am “getting there” but there are also many areas, many days, many ways that I, well, that I blow it. Do you?
So when I reflect on that passage and some of the other Scriptures that come to mind in light of its intent, I can see a few things that I, as a Christian, should be doing differently or better:
- Boldly Serving, Unafraid of Consequences
- Joyously Living My Faith
- Burdened by Compassion for the “Lost”
- Choosing to Glorify The One
- Living A “Resurrected Life”
This post is getting a bit long but let’s hit each of these quickly –
Boldly Serving, Unafraid of Consequences
What are you afraid of in life? Without thinking or editing too much I can come up with some that have been there for me – Rejection, Embarrassment, Losing a Loved One, Intense Pain… I am sure there are more (even my crazy irrational worries that my personality can come up – falsely being accused of something, etc.). If I look at the “good-bad scale” of life (forget about Christ arose for a split second) where do those fit? If death were on the bad side of the scale, do any of those exceed the bounds? How far “left” of death are they? Christ IS Risen, though. He took the sting out of death. What is the worst thing that can happen to me in light of that fact? Sure maybe some temporary pain if I were to die in a particularly awful way. Sure maybe some temporary embarrassment or rejection. I serve the One who has the power of the worst thing that could happen to me. The One who actually turns the worst into something pretty glorious. I like what Paul said in Philipians 1:21 “For Me To Live is Christ and to Die is Gain”. He wrote that from prison, by the way. So how do I fail in Boldness?
- That person I felt led to share the Gospel message with…. But didn’t.
- That time a conversation was going the wrong way and I felt led to walk away from it… But I contributed to it.
- That time I felt like I should be asking God “Have your way with me! Show me what -you- want me to be”… But I gave Him conditions that listed what I felt comfortable or safe with.
A quote pertaining to this action grabbed me recently. It is from Keith Green, a singer and evangelist who is with the Lord now. You can argue some of the nuances of what “responsible” means (God offers and gives salvation, not men and I couldn’t ever force anyone to such a decision) but I know what he meant when he said “This generation of believers is responsible for this generation of souls”. I need to be Boldly Serving Christ in whatever capacity and way He wants me to be. He made it possible for me to do this through His death, burial and resurrection. I’m not doing it right. What about you?
Joyously Living My Faith
Verse 19 above reads “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied,” when referring to a “Resurrection-less” world. If Christ is still in a grave then I have no cause for an eternal joy. The kind of joy that a hymn writer still had when he wrote an amazing hymn, “It is Well With My Soul”. (he wrote that hymn after learning of the death of his four daughters in a steam-liner accident, a son a couple years prior, and his business in the great Chicago fire). I don’t mean to imply that you can’t be “happy” apart from Christ. No, there are plenty of times of happiness in the lives of non believers. What I mean is the deep joy that is with me always. I have a reason for that joy, I have a reason for that hope and it can’t be robbed from me. The Resurrection wins. Sure, I will have times of tears in my life, I have lost loved ones, but those tears are not so bitter with a joy that was placed in my heart by Christ beating on throughout life.
Burdened By Compassion for the “Lost”
If we believe in the Resurrection of Christ that means we believe God’s Word. It means we Believe in Jesus’ ministry on earth. That means we should believe in a literal hell. A literal eternal punishment that we all deserve. Because of that, we should feel compassion towards those who don’t believe it. I don’t mean we need to beat people with Bible’s. I don’t mean we need to be arrogant jerks because we have some source of pride in our faith. I mean we should cringe at the thought of anyone going to hell. We should be burdened to the point of action. Be that action a bold witness, a compassionate hand up, living a life that testifies of what Jesus has done for us or being a good listener and friend. Let’s honestly ask ourselves how we are doing here this Easter.
Choosing To Glorify The One
We were created as beings capable of Worship. That Worship capability was and is meant to be directed at God. Sin perverted that. We are good at worshiping as humans. We just point it in the wrong direction. It can be something that seems safe (Work, Giving back to the SQL Server community, Family, etc.), it can be sinful (look at the addictions that affect so many) but either way it isn’t where our Worship – our focus – should be. God deserves our Worship and we are able to give that Worship to Him only by Jesus’ death, burial and Resurrection. If we put our trust in Jesus – when He died He took our sin nature with Him. When He arose a new you, a new me rose with Him. Romans 6 talks about this, Galatians 2:20 talks about this, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me”. Many verses talk about this new creature, this new person that is within us as a result of our trusting Christ.
In a nutshell – on the cross a debit and credit transaction happened – Jesus took the full weight of your sin. The full weight of my sin. He took the punishment of our sin upon Himself. At that same moment He imparted His righteousness onto us. He declared us righteous! God sees us as Righteous because of this transaction. It has nothing to do with my actions or your actions, God is a Holy and Just God and we fall so incredibly short of His standard of Holiness. We couldn’t ever earn our way to Salvation (even if anyone ever truly wanted to). Jesus offered that to us. If we’ve accepted that gift and we’ve repented (turned) from our own attempts at “earning” something we can never earn and we believe that God raised Jesus from the dead on the 3rd day then this transaction was applied to us. That Forgiveness granting, Righteous declaring, Jesus bearing the full cost transaction is only “committed” if we accept it and apply it to our lives. If we don’t then it gets rolled back for us. His death was enough to pay for the sins of everyone who has, does or will live but it is only good if we accept it in our own lives.
But… If we accepted it. If we turned from trying to be good “enough” to meet a Holy standard (sounds almost arrogant when I re-read it, but it is what I did for the first 22 or so years of my life before coming to Christ on His terms) then we are trusting Christ. If He did rise from the grave (and I believe He did) then we have it. Then Galatians 2:20 is ours. So why glorify in ourselves? Why seek after the praise of man? Why seek fulfillment in taking pleasures from temporary, fleeting pleasures of the things we “worship” here? No. In light of the resurrection we should be directing our Worship up. He deserves it.
Living A Resurrected Life
That is what all of the above is, isn’t it? That verse from Galatians says it all. Romans 6 says it all. It wasn’t just Jesus who was Resurrected! It was our new nature that came with Him. It was the Resurrection that proved His ability to take our sins. It was the Cross that proved He loved us enough to do it. It was the Resurrection that showed us His power over whatever sins (of omission or commission) that affect our lives. It was His Resurrection that shows us why Galatians 2:20 is true and can be lived. So let’s commit to start doing that this Easter.