As we approach Easter, we would do well to think long and hard on what it is that we are celebrating and what sort of impact that should entail.
Easter is a time of rebirth and resurrection. As Paul declares in his letter to the Colossians, Christ is the firstborn of all the dead (Colossians 1:15-18) and in that there should be an unceasing hope that fills our churches.
However, there are many churches across our state and nation that are in need of hope and long for newness of life. Churches that were once vibrant pillars in their communities now merely piece together their gatherings, aging physically and spiritually, and growing weary with each passing day.
The same could be said for almost any individual who does not believe in Christ. Trials, heartache and the burdens of life leave one feeling tired, low and thirsting for so much more.
But Easter is a time of rebirth and resurrection, and because of Christ’s finished work on the cross, there is hope for everyone. Whether it’s a church in need of revitalization or an individual desperately trying to find the purpose for which they were made, the reality of the resurrection brings life to all.
The resurrection offers hope for God’s people (Revitalization)
As we approach Easter, every church should be asking, “What would it look like to have lost people here?” Holidays like Easter and Christmas carry a certain cultural sensitivity. If ever there was an opportunity for plateaued or declining churches to prepare for God to do a marvelous work, the time is now.
But as we prepare our hearts for those who will be drawn to a church building for the first time or the first time in a long time, may we remember a truth rediscovered in the Protestant Reformation — the priesthood of all believers. Because of the resurrection, the Great Commission belongs to everyone.
Because of the resurrection, the Great Commission belongs to everyone.
The priesthood of all believers means that no one is left on the sidelines. As church family, as God’s people, you are called to love your neighbor, to care for the far off and isolated. Perhaps it’s time for you and your fellow members to pray over your neighborhood. Perhaps it’s time to knock on a neighbor’s door with a warm and friendly invitation to this year’s Easter service. No matter where your church finds itself this year, just as Passion Friday once seemed dark and defeating, know that Sunday brings an eternal hope.
The resurrection offers hope for those seeking (Evangelism and Discipleship)
There are many beliefs that characterize the Christian faith, but none are as central as the belief in the resurrection of Jesus. We know this to be true while an unbelieving world deliberates and questions this anchor point in salvation history. Even if one does not believe in the resurrection, they want it to be true. They want there to be a solution to the pain and hurt around them. They want an answer for the problem of evil.
This is what C.S. Lewis had in mind when he wrote, Mere Christianity. Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
People are looking for hope, and hope is exactly what we celebrate on Easter Sunday. We have a common hope, which is further explained in Acts 2:43-47. What motivates people to live with this hope? The reality that in Christ, we have a living hope and the power to overcome sin and death. The call to go and spread this good news was not a burdensome command for the apostles, it was an overflow from truly encountering Jesus.
So what does the resurrection mean for us as we go and make disciples? It means that we are freed from the burdens of this world. We are commissioned to go in full confidence that Christ will meet our obedience with His great purposes. The resurrection liberates us to pursue our neighbors. Whether in the grocery store, the pickup line at your kid’s elementary school or any number of seemingly routine places, you have a story to tell.
by Eric Warren / Communications Team / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
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