Easter may have looked different this year – yes. Virtual services, maybe a small family gathering for lunch depending on the level of lockdown your county or state is under and definitely no wide-scale egg hunt.
But maybe . . . Easter was more intimate. You were able to share a special time with your immediate family and reflect on the death of Jesus and his resurrection.
Maybe you watched The Passion of the Christ as a family or read the Scriptures on the empty tomb and discussed what it means, together.
But maybe, it’s a week later, and life has passed from the hype of Easter and life is back to whatever life looks like during a global pandemic.
Can I ask you a question? It might get personal, but that’s a good thing.
Where are you today, spiritually?
Are you close to Jesus?
When was the last time you experienced his presence either through his Word, through other believers or through life circumstances?
Is the resurrection enough for you?
Is it enough to live every day, every week, on mission for our Savior? Because the resurrection, my friends, is only the beginning. What happens next?
What was the entire point of Jesus dying on the cross and rising again? It was to save the lost. He sacrificed himself on an altar of love:
“Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.
“And we have seen, and we testify that the Father has sent his Son as the world’s Savior. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world.
There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:10-19)
OK, I realize I threw a lot of Bible at you. I’m hoping though that the message resounds in the core of your heart.
God is love. God loved us so much he died for us.
But this is only the beginning of the story – we are to complete his mission! By his Spirit, we are to love others.
God’s plan was for the church – those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and allow this to radically change their lives – to love the world.
To be his hands and feet
To be his heart.
To show the world love. And by doing so, to show the world Jesus.
The church was always God’s post-Easter plan. After Jesus proves he resurrected by appearing to his disciples and 500 others, after restoring his disciple Peter, Jesus ascends to heaven. But right before, he gives his disciples a command:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(Matthew 28:18-20)
That is the epilogue of Easter.
To be on mission for Jesus!
The story of Jesus’ death and resurrection should revive us to press on towards the goal and keep fighting on in faith. The cross is the centripetal force of all history. Before the Messiah arrived, the Jews were looking for him. After he died and was resurrected, we are pointing back to him.
But my friends, this is not the end of the story.
In the book of Acts, we see the church being given the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, and then they go out and tell the world about Jesus, most of them dying in the process. This book should be an inspiration for us, 2,000 years later.
It should inspire us to love everyone, even those who are “unclean” (Acts 10).
It should inspire us to pray for miracles and for the supernatural (Acts 12).
It should inspire us to have the kind of faith to be fearless remaining in God’s perfect love, even if life feels like a shipwreck right now (Acts 27).
It should inspire us to live boldly and to love well, no matter the consequences (Acts 7).
And even after the book of Acts, there is so much more to uncover in the New Testament!
There are all those letters written to people or to churches that provide wisdom and practical insight (the Epistles).
James, Hebrews, Colossians, Philippians, 1 John, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Romans, 1 and 2 Peter, etc. They are all worth reading and talking about.
And then there’s the book of Revelation. A highly controversial book that many people have opinions about, but I’m not going to dive into those specifics without inciting and un-fruitful debate between believers. But there is something in Revelation we can all agree on:
Jesus is coming back. Things will get worse before they get better. There will be a day when the books are opened and those who do not know Jesus will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
But we have our eyes on the prize: life everlasting with our Lord and Savior where there is no more separation, everything is made new and the curse is finally broken. And the beginning and the end say the same thing about God: He is love. Yes, love.
With love, we can show others who God is. We can reach out in faith and pray that God draws near to those our hearts ache for and they reach for him too, before it is too late.
“Be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. This is why you are also to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:42-44)
I want to be ready, don’t you?
I want my family and my friends, to be ready.
I want to be a part of a church that lives and breathes missions because there has been a sense of urgency for 2,000 years . . . That Jesus is coming back. His life and resurrection were to save the world, and when he comes back, it will be to judge the world.
Let me ask you again. Where are you today, spiritually?
Is the resurrection enough for you to live fearlessly in love because of your hope?
Are you doing your part to live on mission within your church community? Or even outside of it?
Be the church.
Be Jesus to a world that is cloaked in fear and darkness and desperately needs truth more than ever.