Have You Experienced the Resurrection Within?
Resurrection Day or Easter Sunday was April 20th this year. As we celebrated the season I began to investigate what the day represented in my life. I was completely oblivious to the exquisitely beautiful wide brim hats. Also escaping my attention were the well-suited outfits of vibrant patterns that radiate an array of colors, the kind that were once called a fashion disaster. No, this was not my focus. Even the angelically dressed children wonder, “Mommy, why do we have to dress up and go to church every year and say the same speech?” The hours of shopping that lead up to the day ensures that each family member has the best choice of a spring wardrobe for work or play. The dinner meal is festive and long awaited for; the eggs are dyed and arranged in hidden places just so; and lilies are in full bloom around the yard and strategically placed in vases. But one has to wonder, does the above characterization of Resurrection Day cause us to be crucified with Christ Jesus?
Galatians 2:17- 20 says: “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”(NIV)
The above scriptures show clearly why it had to be a God-like creature to redeem man from himself. Yes we have been redeemed by our Savior! In fact, the Resurrection season is unmistakably a reminder of the life that Jesus lived and died. In this season, we are able to focus on the importance of being free in this GRACE that Jesus has provided for us. That is to say, this GRACE allows us to understand that the law was never the perfect means to measure our sin, nor could it ever justify our actions. We are then grateful that Jesus paid the complete price for our sinful acts. We realize our indebtedness to God for giving us justification as if we had never committed sin, as if we are not guilty, nor in bondage for past or future sins and transgressions. Wow! What privilege to have been crucified with Christ and to now live a life dead in Him.
The believers in Galatia found themselves heading down a dangerous path, and they needed a reminder from Paul. They had become children of God by placing their faith and trust in Jesus, but the simple childlike faith was being assailed by the false teaching that faith alone is insufficient for salvation. Jewish Christians were telling them that along with faith in Jesus, God’s people were accountable to keep the Jewish traditions and laws in order to be saved. However Paul’s response was just the opposite, Galatians 3:3 “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human efforts?”
Let’s ask and answer that question for ourselves: Are we trying to keep the Spirit by dressing in new attire on Resurrection Sunday? Does spending money on fancy hats, shoes and a new wardrobe increase our Spirituality? Let me answer that: It Does Not. In the same vein, when we are dead in Christ, it does not take away from our Spiritually and growth in Christ. Dead in Christ simply means that the worldly appeal has been replaced by our love, faith, and trust in Jesus. So whether we eat Easter eggs, give grandchildren fancy Easter baskets, or look our Sunday best on Resurrection Day, none of these things can replace what is truly in our hearts. We are imparting into our families and friends that Jesus’ Death, Burial and Resurrection is the ultimate reason for this Grand Resurrection Day Celebration.
While we are no longer bound by the letter of the law, we as believers are “clothed” with Christ, and our focus must now be on pleasing Him rather than on gratifying our own desires, (See Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10-12). We are quick to think of sexual sin when we think of gratifying ourselves, but pleasing ourselves includes so much more. Craving food, striving for material possessions, harboring thoughts of envy, hoarding our precious time, desiring public attention and recognition for our efforts in order to enhance the quality of life in our community, these are all examples of self-gratification. These thoughts and actions are all contrary to the principles of our new life of freedom in Jesus Christ. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, NIV)
So instead of the law, now that the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, the evidence which will be beautifully displayed will be the “fruit of the Spirit”. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with it passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:22-26, NIV)
Photo credit: Wicker Paradise / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)