So, we have had yet another year of “Easter” celebrations. We have had our sunrise services, breakfast included. We have had our Easter egg hunts for the children, complete with covered dish lunches for the family. We have stood in the dark, early Sunday morning and rehearsed and remembered that morning in the misty recesses of time – nearly 2,000 years ago – when the disciples discovered that the tomb was empty. “He is risen!” is the cry, with the reply, “He is risen indeed!” But with all due respect, with all reverence, the question is begged, “So what?”
If this annual remembrance is the extent of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth for the church, then how is Christianity any different than any other religion which celebrates the birth, life, death, and/or resurrection (or reincarnation) of its founder? If the reality of His resurrection, for us, is dependent on our rehearsal of a yearly play (as it were), then we do not, in fact, have a faith other than our own and from within ourselves. In order for the church to have existed this long – in good times and bad – there must be more involved than the pure willpower of human beings and their religious inconsistencies.
I tell you that, it is not simply a retelling of the story of the resurrection of Christ, but the actual life of the Resurrected Christ that empowers His church today! If it is true that Jesus was resurrected all those years ago (and it is), then it necessarily follows that I do not have to remember the fact annually but it is a reality lived out in my life daily; the Resurrected Christ lives and breathes in us today, 2,000 years later. While the life of Christ was a beautiful thing and, in spite of the horror, the death of Christ was even more splendid because of His resurrection and our forgiveness and reconciliation, Jesus does not repetitiously live His past life over and over again in each of us, but He picks up where He left off in all of us; He continues living the lifestyle of the Resurrected Christ in us – the Church, by definition.
The early church celebrated the life of the resurrected Christ every single resurrection day – Sunday (the Day of Resurrection). The Apostle Paul insisted that he “died daily,” which speaks to a daily activity inviting the life of the Resurrected Christ to live within him. If simply a remembrance, then powerless; its point is centered on my own ability to remember. If only a rehearsal, then pointless, its power is based on my own ability to act out my part in the story.
To what end did Christ defy the laws of nature and rise from the dead if I am still dependent on my own powerless frailties? What did He mean when He said that the Spirit of God, Himself, would live life in us, if we are still self-reliant? Why did He say that He would be with us until the end of the age, only to leave us to our own religious attempts to conjure Him? If He is alive, then we are not powerless! If He is living Resurrection Life in us, then we are not religiously self-dependent! And if all this is true (and it is), then He is present with us and there is no need to treat Him as if He is a character-hero in an ancient story from the misty recesses of time!