Faith, Culture & The Church
"In Him [Christ] you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."
(Ephesians 2:22, NIV)
(Ephesians 2:22, NIV)
Sometimes I look around at my life--our little home that is sometimes clean, our backyard with a swing-set, a rabbit and a dog, our children who are not so little anymore, our marriage that is now the age of a teenager--and I wonder, is this really my life? How can it be that I am this blessed, this cared for, this crazy, this loved, and. . . this old.
Truly, I don't really know where the 10 years between 27 and 37 went. I am pretty sure my brain still thinks I am 27, but my body and the ages of my kids are helpful reminders that I am not.
On this Easter evening, I wonder at the time that has passed between Christ's resurrection and the life I am living right now in the wake of his saving grace. Do all the years between feel like a single second or maybe a minute to God? Does it feel like just yesterday he sent Jesus down to walk among us and teach us of redemption through relationship?
And then the bigger question, the one that should impact my every day arises in me and asks, do I live like the power that raised Jesus from the dead is as close and accessible today as it was on that first day that death was defeated? Do I live with an excitement like he saved me just yesterday? Do I live like I know my life today is different because of the yesterday of 2000 years ago?
When I look around at my little life and assess what I see in light of the fact that there once was a man who walked the earth with people just like me who had homes, and lives, and children and marriages, and pain I wonder at his perspective. He stepped into the mess of earth and built relationships with some of the least unlikely men and women and then he died in front of their eyes. And rose just behind their tears. And perhaps it felt like time stood still for a bit.
And yet, on the third day, when the stone was rolled away their ordinary changed because they got to see, touch, talk to and believe this Jesus was who he said he was--fully God, fully man, the savior of the world, the destroyer of ordinary.
What did the next years feel like to those who loved Jesus, watched him die and watched him rise? To those who began the first churches? Did the zeal wear off? Did they go back to their old habits or ways of thinking?
I don't think the ones who really believed him did. Most of them died fighting to share the Gospel of Jesus' saving grace to a world that persecuted them and ran them out of town. To choose to keep believing and professing Jesus was to choose a life full of risk of death. And they chose this!
Would who I believe Jesus to be give me the courage and the strength to risk it all--family, home, comfort, my earthly future hope and dreams--to live like I believed it, and share the truth of the Gospel with others?
Am I that brave?
Am I that courageous?
Am I that sure?
In short, no. I am not. My humanness is tripping me up all the time. But, Easter reminds me that God has been using unlikely, unsure humans to build his church since the days Jesus rose from the grave. And because of their stories and the Spirit’s power at work in me, I can at the very least start living like I do.
Perhaps the courage, like Jill Briscoe says, is waiting on the other side of my obedience. Perhaps, actions come first and the power settles in second? Perhaps my confidence needs to be weak because it is only in my weakness that He is strong. And then my faith is faith because I am operating out of true dependence on Christ and belief in the the one who is the Word come in the flesh, that all the world could know the light wins over darkness.
A lot of the days in my life start out just as ordinary as the one before. A lot of Sundays I corral my troop and arrive late to church, again! But on this Easter Sunday, I am reminded that there is actually nothing about this life I live that is ordinary because you and I have a great commission to fulfill--Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).
I can let the days go by and get stuck in the day-to-day, or I can take actions that show I believe, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (1 Peter 3:9). And that I have what I need right where I am to bring the powerful message of Easter to those who cross my path in the in-between of life now and eternity to come.
Happy Easter friends! I pray you and I both will not imagine for a second that we live ordinary lives. Instead, that we will remember, even if our lives look ordinary in the pictures we post that behind the screens, we are able to choose to live out beliefs that drive actions that move us into needing the courage found in the power of the Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave.