Sunday, March 30, 2008

remembering friday, living sunday

On Easter Sunday we visited a large church out west. They had contemporary Christian worship but besides the I-love-you-Jesus songs, all the songs referred to the Cross. None referred to the Resurrection or to its victory. The sermon was excellent. It was an excellent Good Friday sermon. They had scenes from The Passion of Christ interspersed on a large screen behind the pastor that made one really appreciate the Cross.

Except for a passing reference to the Resurrection as a foreshadowing of the future resurrection of the dead, there was nothing to indicate that it was Easter.

During worship I thought to myself that these people are so focused on the Cross that they don’t appreciate the Resurrection. I doubt there was any coordination between the worship leader and the pastor, but I thought the same thing about the pastor during the sermon. Now, I don’t think I fully appreciate the significance of the Resurrection myself, but I sensed something was really missing in this service.

The church is Baptist in theology and by association. Like many modern NT churches they are so focused on the sacrifice that they neglect the victory. But in the early church, the Resurrection was the focus of preaching. The Resurrection was emphasized in writings. After all, there is a reason we have church on Sunday mornings and not on Fridays.

Many American evangelicals are so focused on salvation and the price paid on the cross that they forget half the Gospel. Jesus died but he is not dead. Concentrating on the death is no way to find the life.

It is good to remember Good Friday, but the most important day for Christians to live is Easter.

I knew that I had to do something to bring Easter into remembrance. I had to remind myself that HE IS RISEN! That because Jesus is risen, He is with me and will never forsake me. Because HE IS RISEN, He sits at the right hand of God and I am seated with Him in heavenly places. Because HE IS RISEN, I have been given the strength to even be able to stand before an all powerful Creator to worship him. It is the power of God that raised Jesus up the dead that gives me new life. He is alive. The Cross is empty. The tomb is empty. Jesus is alive!

If I didn’t remember those things then I would miss Easter. Easter is too important to miss.

It worked. God met me and I felt the presence of God in that meeting. I felt the joy of the Lord during the sermon despite the large screen behind the pastor with the image of a bloody, suffering Jesus. At the end of the sermon I could stand and worship God with pleasure and gratitude. There were only a few of us who could do that in a congregation of several hundred.

I left that church elated.

The rest of the congregation left church as if they were leaving a funeral. There were a few smiles of greeting, but you’d see the same thing after a funeral. I heard no one say “He is risen!” I was surprised by how much I wanted to say it. In fact, I was bursting to say it. However such a comment seemed so inappropriate in that place. I felt elated but I also felt very isolated. They just didn’t get Easter.

After church someone didn’t want me to have a cup of coffee, maintaining that I had had enough caffeine. While I had a can of Cherry Coke a few hours earlier, that does have enough stuff to really impact me. I couldn’t understand why the fuss over coffee. Later my quick-as-thunder mind realized that a little bit of caffeine, whose very minor effect had long since worn off, explained why I was happy and this person was not.

It was easier for some to believe in the power of Coca-Cola than in the power of God that raised Jesus from the grave.

Some not only don't get Easter, they don't know that they don't get Easter.


Be blessed for He is Risen.
RB

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