I’ve been encouraged recently by all the posts about Easter on social media. I love the family photos. I love watching children hunt eggs. I love seeing families come together for meals. But most importantly, I love the truth behind this special day on the calendar. Believers and skeptics alike gathering to celebrate and consider the resurrection of Christ is always healthy and inspiring from my perspective. Both the Bible and the great hymns of the Christian faith seem to come alive on a day set aside to remember that though He was dead, Jesus Christ of Nazareth is now very much alive.
But now what? As we move toward summer, what bearing, if any, will the Easter reality have on our lives? Faithful Christians will rightly say that every Sunday is a resurrection celebration. What I am asking, though, is what difference will it make in our lives? Is Easter merely a photo op to capture an annual moment? Is pumping our children full of sugar-coated marshmallows our only goal? Will the only lingering recollection of last weekend come when we run over unfound plastic eggs with the lawn mower in the coming weeks? I hope not. If I may, let me suggest three healthier, more meaningful responses to the resurrection of Christ.
First, it is imperative that we BELIEVE. We’ve heard sermons about the resurrection. We’ve read Bible verses that declare its historicity. We realize that all of Christianity is built on the central truth that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Yet, a failure to believe that these reports are true is to place ourselves outside the faith that has been handed down to the saints (Jude 3). Even worse, unbelief leaves us vulnerable to a judgement of our works that will result in eternal condemnation (Rev. 20:12). Stated simply, if we do not, by grace through faith, accept the free gift of salvation purchased on the cross and accomplished by the resurrection, we cannot be saved (Eph. 2:8-9). The Apostle Paul assures us, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Second, all true believers must be willing to SHARE. After His resurrection Jesus appeared to more than 500 people over a period of forty days. During the same period, the Lord instructed us to make disciples of the all nations by going, teaching, and baptizing (Matt. 28:19-20). Just moments before ascending back to heaven, Jesus admonished His followers to be His witnesses where they lived, in surrounding areas, and around the world (Acts. 1:8). Motivated by His future return, Christians prioritize sharing the good news of salvation far and wide. Thus, appropriate questions to ask after Easter include the following: Who do I know that is unsaved? What opportunities do I have to share the gospel? Where can my life have the biggest impact for Christ? Why do I sometimes refuse to share my faith?
Third, because Christ lives, we should OBEY. To some, emphasizing obedience while extolling God’s grace may seem like a contradiction. Biblically, however, the former is the natural expression of the latter. Disciples of Jesus do not obey God to earn His grace, but to express His grace instead. Just after celebrating the means of grace through faith for salvation, Ephesians 2:10 exclaims, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Gratitude, not guilt, is the primary motivator for holy living. Because Jesus lives and promise to return for His children, each of us should strive to be more like Him as we prepare to meet Him.
Easter should be the beginning, not the end of our commitment to God. My prayer for you, and myself, is that this year’s celebration will so grip our hearts so that we are changed forever. One day with Jesus can change the rest of your life.
Do you have a question you would like for me to answer in this column? I would love to hear from you. Please submit any question or topic for discussion to the email address below. Thanks for reading!
Dr Adam B. Dooley is pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN, and author of Hope When Life Unravels. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBDooley.