The following headline popped up on my iPhone as I was rushing my family out the door to get to church on time . . .
“45 Christians die in two separate bombing incidents in Egypt on Palm Sunday”
I read it, but it didn’t make me slow down . . . didn’t make me stop to pray for those who lost their lives . . . didn’t make me speak in a softer tone to my boys who still didn’t have their shoes on. I can speak only for myself here, but when I read that headline it was easy to feel sorry for people dying for their faith around the world but not be moved to live any differently. Why is that? There’s probably of multitude of reasons. But what might be an even more important question is what motivated this same group of persecuted believers to gather again yesterday for Easter to worship the same Jesus that makes another group of people angry enough to want to kill them? Hold your thoughts there, we’ll come back to this question.
That same weekend, something happened that hit much closer to home . . . the Saturday before Palm Sunday, I sat in a ‘standing room only’ Atlanta church at the funeral of a close friend of our family. 41-years-old, married with boys the same age as mine . . . given a diagnosis only 5 weeks prior after dealing with what she described as acid reflux. This past summer, our family spent an amazing week with them at Young Life’s family camp, Trail West, making memories on the ropes course and the Colorado River (pictured above) . . . a trip that carries special meaning now. Julie was not only extremely accomplished in the business world, but also extremely dedicated to her family, her children’s school, her church and her Savior. As her husband said in a blog post last week, she lived out Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Speaking again for myself, her funeral made me wonder if I would I respond to death the same way Julie did . . . thinking of others, dreaming of starting a ministry that would minister to cancer patients by feeding them scripture and creating a place for them to share their stories? What is it that motivated Julie to worship Jesus and not waste time doubting His will for her life?
I think the answer is the same reason those Egyptian Christians will continue to gather . . . and it’s the same reason millions of Christians around the world gathered to worship yesterday on Easter . . . the risen Savior . . . the Resurrection.
Consider what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 (MSG) . . .
If there’s no resurrection, there’s no living Christ. And face it—if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors . . .
If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries . . .
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.
Or as Henri Nouwen wrote towards the end of his life in his book, Our Greatest Gift . . .
“The resurrection does not solve our problems about dying and death. It is not the happy ending to our life’s struggle, nor is it the big surprise that God has kept in store for us. No, the resurrection is the expression of God’s faithfulness . . . The resurrection is God’s way of revealing to us that nothing that belongs to God will ever go to waste. What belongs to God will never get lost.”
So, let’s not waste the Resurrection. Let’s not let the significance of that divine event be left to one day of the year where we get to wear our pastel colors and seersucker suits (for those of us in the South). Let it serve as a daily reminder that because of the resurrection we get to live a new life (Romans 6:4) . . . that we get to know Him . . . walk with Him . . . and talk with Him. The Risen Savior!
Scripture: We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)
Mentor Tip: If you’re mentoring a group during the Easter season, take a minute in your next meeting and talk about Easter and the Resurrection. It may not fit perfectly with whatever topic you’re discussing that month but don’t miss the opportunity to help remind your guys the significance of this event and help them see the importance of letting it be a daily reminder in their lives.
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