Thursday, April 17, 2014

He is Risen Indeed!

Many Christians include a traditional greeting in their Easter celebration.  One Christian greets the other by saying, “He is risen!”  The other returns the greeting by saying, “He is risen, indeed!”

He is risen, indeed.  The dictionary defines the word indeed like this: in fact, in truth…in reality.  A Christian saying, “He is risen indeed” is basically saying, He is risen in reality.  That is an important tidbit to hold onto when celebrating Easter.

We can be tempted to celebrate Easter like it isn’t a reality.  We think of Jesus as a person who lived a long time ago, disconnected from our lives.  We remember that Jesus got up from the dead like a history lesson.  In doing so, we forget that Jesus is still alive.  Because Jesus got up, Jesus is at work in the here and now – in our reality.           
Because we forget this truth, the old Christian greeting reminds us that Jesus is risen indeed.  Jesus’ resurrection shapes our reality today.  Death is no longer the ultimate end of our lives.  Jesus is.  The grave is not the end of our story.  Jesus is.  For Christians, the resurrection is not a myth or tradition, but a reality that changes every aspect of who we are and how we live.

As you worship Jesus this Easter, worship Him in the reality and truth of His resurrection.  He is alive and present in the His Holy Spirit.  He is continuing His resurrection work in the world around us.  Lives are being saved.  People are being healed.  Death is overcome.   All of this is true because He is risen.  He is risen, INDEED!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Give Up!

I loved wrestling with my cousins when I was a kid.  We would pretend we were G.I. Joes, ninjas, the Dukes of Hazard, and a million other things.  Regardless of the fantasy, it always led to a wrestling match.  Because I am a poor wrestler, I always lost.  Every wrestling match ended with me yelling, “I give up!  I give up!”
By yelling, “I give up,” I was signaling several things all at once.  I was admitting that I was helpless.  I was pleading for mercy (my cousin wouldn’t stop rubbing my face into the ground until I gave up).  I was giving control of the situation to my (much tougher) cousin.
We can treat our relationship with God like a childish wrestling match.  We envision God trying to overpower us and impose His will on us.  We think that we need to out maneuver God in order to make choices for ourselves.  Then, God pins us down, we give up, and let God have control of our lives.  But, God doesn’t work like that.
One of the last things that Jesus says to His disciples on earth is this: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” (Matthew 28:18).  The power is already God’s.  He does not have to wrestle it from us.  God Almighty does not need to force His will on us.  From the get go, He has the authority.  We “give up” by simply accepting an already existing fact:  Jesus is Lord.
As we worship this week, we are letting God know, “We give up!”  The entire reason we are here today is to give up (sacrifice) to the fact the Jesus is Lord.  We read scriptures that remind us that we are helpless.  We sing songs that state our need for mercy.  We pray prayers giving control to God.  In doing so, we are not giving up because God forced us to.  We are simply declaring what has always been true:  Jesus is Lord!