The Good News of Easter is that Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we may not only live the abundant life in the here and now but to move on to an eternal life when we die. We are spiritually dead when we live our lives only in the dimension of the space and time of our earthly lives. We live in fear of death when we have not come to terms with the reality of evil and God’s judgment against sin and evil. We live in denial of old age, pain and suffering when we put our hope in modern medicine and worship the idols of wealth, health and longevity.
The Greeks worshipped an “unknown God” as they sought to find the true meaning of life and death. Philosophy was seen as a way of training for dying to reduce their fear of death. St Paul reminded them that God has set a day for judging the world with justice by Jesus Christ who was raised from the dead. (Acts 17:31)
We need to understand, appreciate and gratefully respond to God’s amazing gift of grace through Jesus Christ so that we can be delivered from the deadly existence of a worldly life to the deathless existence of a life in and with Christ. To do so, we need to face the reality of God’s judgment against sin and evil. It is strange that human beings demand justice for crimes committed against them but are unable to accept God’s judgment against the evil powers and principalities of the spiritual realm. But when we are able to do so we have the blessed assurance that God will be our hiding place at such a time:
“For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.” (Psalm 32:7)
The writer of an Upper Room devotional on 14th April 2013 made the very important observation that “the resurrection is not another ancient story with a good moral to be remembered on Easter Sunday. The resurrection is the reality that sustains our faith and anchors our reasoning.”
Faith is not just believing in God for even demons believe and tremble with fear (James 2:19). Faith is the commitment to live our lives centered on God with Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. This is not something that we do with our human effort but a gift of grace that we receive from God when we empty our hearts of all that is not of God.
We will always be tempted to use God’s blessings for our personal gain. There is nothing wrong with enjoying what God has given us – the problem is when these blessings become idols in our hearts and draw us away from what God wants to do in our lives. We need to practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer to wait on God and biblical meditation for God’s revelation of His love and grace in Jesus Christ.
To be in the world but not to be of the world does not mean that we will not have problems and tribulations. When our focus is on Christ and on Christ alone, even when things seem so wrong, we can be sure that God is in control and that He will lead us to be in the right place and to do the right thing at the right time. We will not see our problems as God’s punishment but as God’s training and equipping us for the tasks He has planned for us. The bible is full of stories of extraordinary things happening to extraordinary people with extraordinary destinies.
When we are tempted to worry, or to doubt or to fear, we can turn to the cross and remember that God holds all our tomorrows. When we are sick, in pain or suffering, we can call upon the name of our Lord and remember that by His stripes we are healed. When we have been hurt by others, we can remember that Jesus has borne our hurts on the cross so that we can forgive in the power of His grace and remembering that God alone has the right to take revenge (Romans 12:19)
Let us encourage one another to live lives of victories by sharing the Presence of the Living Christ through the problems we face in our lives. This is the gospel of God's amazing grace that should move us to sing songs of victory such as:
We acclaim Your life, O Jesus,
Now we sing Your victory;
Sin or hell may seek to seize us
But Your conquest keeps us free.
Stand in triumph, stand in triumph,
Worship Christ, the Risen King!