What does the Resurrection mean to Christianity?
You will be surprised how many Christians will answer this question with a resounding, “I’m not really sure?” Although this answer may seem frightening to a PhD level theologian, the reality is it’s a common answer among those who are in the church body and genuinely seeking a relationship with Christ. Engaging in Easter does not necessarily mean that we understand the resurrection and for all of those who have engaged in Easter Sunday at your church, experienced it as a family holiday tradition, have been a Christian a long time but still do not have a clear understanding of what the resurrection means to Christianity, this article is written with my love and hope for you. Let’s talk about it-
Relationship and Reconciliation
No genuine relationship can be forged outside of a level of intimacy. When you think of your most intimate relationships, you might think about how well you know the details and nuances about the person you claim a relationship with. Now I’m a lot like Wendy Williams and I have made many people (including her) a “friend in my head” but genuine relationships involves a level of “knowing” about the other person and vulnerability in realizing how well they know you. You would not consider a co-worker you were just introduced to your best friend for a reason; no more than you would probably call any “acquaintance” in your life a friend all based on the same premise, you don’t consider someone you barely know a true friend…
James 2:23 (NIV)
23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
Well this is where many Christians stand in their relationship with Christ. They know of Him but they don’t really know Him on an intimate level. It was my intimate relationship with Christ, not the church that led me into seminary. I had an overwhelming desire to know God more and I believe someone reading this now feels the same way. The more I learned about Christ, the deeper I fell in love. The more I fell in love, the more I wanted to serve Him. The more I wanted to serve, the more I wanted to share. This ministry was birthed out of an intimate relationship with Christ and you can start to develop your relationship with Christ too. You may have heard in service, Jesus is your friend or have been told, you are a friend of Jesus. Scripturally, this is correct but genuine friendship, the ones that last, are intimate. So my first question to you would be how intimate are you with Jesus Christ right now and how well would you say you know him? Your answer to that question will tell you where you stand in your understanding of the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a gift from God of mercy to a sinful world; an assurance that our sins would not have to separate us from our Heavenly Father forever. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a gift of reconciliation from a loving God!
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Love and Promise
Sometimes it is difficult to even imagine that kind of love. And that is because God is the only one who can love so purely and unconditionally. The resurrection of Jesus Christ we celebrate on Easter Sunday holds a whole new light when we consider that it is a gift to us from our Creator who loves us so deeply that he paid the price of our sins and washed them clean with the blood of his Son. But what does it mean really to be loved by God? The answer to that question is what separates God from the millions of false gods and idols recognized and worshipped across the globe. The concept of a ‘god’ is as old as time itself; Christians however believe, accept, receive and imitate Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Many Christians teach their children the scripture John 3:16 from childhood. You can recite it, sing it, or perhaps recognize it as a wrestling mantra. But either way, the verse is well rehearsed.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whosoever believeth will not perish but have everlasting life.”
This is a huge promise in a little scripture and it says a
lot! God loved the world, all of it, so much that our belief in His truth; in
his divine revelation to mankind, will keep us together for all eternity. At the risk of sounding like a Sade song,
this is no ordinary love! This is the kind of love that says, even though you
have chosen sin over me, I still chose to love you. That empty tomb is the
fulfillment of prophecy but it is also an incomparable expression of love from
God. Now I don’t know about you but love
that strong should naturally be reciprocated. A love this great should be
returned without reserve. Sometimes, we
allow the hustle and bustle of everyday living to hollow out just how much we
are love. In the absence of that love, we sometimes forget to show love to
others in return. Ever notice how your
mood can dictate your entire day? A spat
with my husband, or an attitude from a supervisor could keep me in a proverbial
funk all day if I allowed it. This is when it is most important to remember the
unconditional love of the Lord! When we remember how much we are loved, we are
excited and anxious to show that love in return. The resurrection is an
opportunity for us to resemble a living God!
Philippians 2:1-8 (NIV)
2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Live in assurance because He Lives!
There is no other god but the one true God! Only God cares about your life, designed you in His image and made you in purpose to His glory. Only God! Only God loves you to the extent of giving you Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is not a religious figure, to Christians; He is our Lord and Savior! His life is holy, his ministry is atoning and his resurrection is the key to everlasting life. The tomb being empty means that we serve a living God! Not a God of the past, a god with limits or an indifferent, random entity but a living God! The resurrection is something to get very excited about. Many people will be watching biblically inspired programming throughout Easter. Hopefully the History channel will re-air The Bible and cable the Passion of Christ but whatever you watch, watch with a heart of thanksgiving. Look past the brutality to the gift. Many people try to refute God’s goodness by using the brutality of crucifixion against God. Many will ask how a loving, sovereign God can allow such brutality and evil as the crucifixion. I say what is more brutal and evil than sin? For some, the crucifixion is about what God did to Jesus, for me, it is about what God gave to me through Jesus. Understanding the resurrection means understanding that we have a God who wants and intimate relationship with us. We serve a God who loves us beyond worldly comprehension. God is worthy of our imitation and has reconciled us to Him by resurrecting Jesus Christ out of the tomb to reveal his magnificent glory.
Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV)
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
So with this in mind, enjoy your Easter dinner, the Easter egg hunts and all the Cadbury eggs you can handle. Whether you go to church or stay home and watch faithful television, enjoy your Easter Sunday! Just be mindful not to let the traditions of the holiday derail you from seeing the reason for the season. Easter is not a holiday it’s a holy day! My prayers are that you will spend time both individually and collectively with your families thanking God for the gift of Jesus Christ. This is also a time to move in faith, placing at the foot of the cross all of the lies of the enemy have tried to convince you of including broken relationships, stress, anger, hostility, fear, depression and every other infirmity in your life and declaring “I receive the gift at the cross and by the blood of Jesus, I have been redeemed!”