Do you remember where you were when you heard something about the Resurrection for the first time? The Resurrection is such an amazing event that it should be like a spiritual 9-11 that is unforgettable. How could we not be shaken by it? Surely that had to be the case for the Lord's disciples when they knew Jesus was alive. How do you forget something like that? It is the kind of thing that once heard it redefines your life and reality forever. Nothing else matters as much after hearing about it. Of course, that was the Lord's intent from the beginning.
And yet, even though the story and truth of the Resurrection is what life is all about, it remains so quiet and hidden at times. You can literally live for years and not hear much about it. You can go to work and hear nothing about it. You can regularly peruse the media and hear little about it. Surprisingly, you can even go to church for years and not hear too much about it outside of a worship service. It rarely seems to be a topic of conversation during the Coffee Hour.
Perhaps the closest we get to have the Resurrection be a real news item is right around Easter. We start to see chocolate bunnies and eggs at our local stores reminding us that Easter is coming. There is also some mention of Easter services in the "Religious Section" of our local newspapers. These special services are normally listed in the back of the paper near the "Tire and Battery" spring sales. The Church has allowed the Resurrection to be packaged and "institutionalized". The Church is sometimes afraid to joyfully and boldly proclaim the Resurrection in public for the fear of offending someone, even though no other religion has an answer for death. Every other religious leader died and made NO claims of resurrection. Only Jesus is alive forever more as He predicted during His ministry.
So after Easter passes by, it seems like things slip back to the normal routines of services, potlucks and a special mission offering to collect pop bottles for kids in Haiti. So if we are honest, the Resurrection is there, but it is not there. People acknowledge it and are affected by it on some level, but not gripped by it. Life does go on and people seem too busy with other stuff.
Perhaps the above story about the lack of passion and focus on the meaning of Easter today explains what is wrong with the modern Church and our spiritual lives. On the 1st Easter, you get the sense that when the Lord Jesus Christ rose, that's all the disciples thought about 24/7. It marked them and all they did. It led them to reorder their lives entirely. The Resurrection was not able to be nicely stored in a life box somewhere in their closet. It was too big and amazing to just put in to some other box. It became what life was about and directed the rest of their lives. Jesus wasn't just alive, He was alive in them and that made all the difference. The disciples had met the Risen Lord and wanted to share Him with others all the time.
In today's world we see an absence of the Resurrection Power that the early Church experienced. It has been replaced with something else from our seductive culture. But how do you do that? How do you find out the Lord is alive from the dead and just go on with things as normal. Imagine that someone came up to you and said, "Hey, I just saw your dead Grandmother sitting in my living room last night and we had a nice conversation over dinner. She looks great!" Would any of us respond to such news with a deadpan answer like, "Oh that is interesting, what else is new?" No, everything would stop and we would rush over to see Grandma and go from there. Is there any doubt of that fact?
Now if the modern Church can't muster that kind of reaction today to our Risen Lord, our cause is a lost one. If the Resurrection is NOT the most important, fresh and transformative truth of life, we are not going to affect too many people with our Faith, including ourselves. Without the power of the Resurrection and Jesus alive in us, the Church will not be very relevant to people today. Without that power, the Church will end up being known for the usual religious stuff...... some routine rituals, gossip, a few potlucks and a little hypocrisy thrown in for good measure. Not a very winsome combination to transform the world with the greatest story ever told.
The deep work of the Lord Jesus Christ is to bring His Resurrection alive in us TODAY! When we spiritually rise to meet our Risen Lord, we know He is alive physically and the Tomb is Empty. When that happens, we experience the beginning of our Resurrection. We come alive with an understanding of why we are alive and where our lives are going. Nothing else will end up mattering more. We may not be exactly sure how to live out this Risen life of Faith, but we know the direction we are headed. Life has truly become worth living because He lives.
May the power of the Resurrection grip each of us this year in a new way and never let us go.