If Christ wasn’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever.
If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot.
But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.
And why do you think I keep risking my neck in this dangerous work?
…Do you think I’d do this if I wasn’t convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus?
It’s resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live.
Think straight. Awaken to the holiness of life. No more playing fast and loose with resurrection facts.
Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these.
Don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort.
1 Corinthians 15:13-20,30,58
Joyous Wondrous Amazing Resurrection Day!
Has the thought ever occurred to you that Easter with its cute little bunnies, chicks, marshmallow eggs and parades…also includes blood, guts, lies, scheming and betrayal.
I know, I know. Not exactly traditional Easter Sunday sermon material, but it is reality. And I’m convinced that ‘sugar-coating’ life or candy bunnies is not good for us in the end. It’s unhealthy- physically and spiritually.
Consider what John Stott says in his book, The Cross of Christ:
There is good biblical evidence that God not only suffered in Christ, but that God in Christ suffers with His people still.
It is wonderful that we may share in Christ’s sufferings; it is more wonderful still that He shares in ours.
You see, perfect-pretty victorious living is wonderful to hear about- and probably wonderful to live – but while we are on this side of heaven, our lives intersect with suffering. To me, that doesn’t make the resurrection and ‘victorious living’ less powerful- but more meaningful and relevant. After all, the cross is not a one time event. It’s power can be released daily in our lives as Luke 9: 23-24 indicates,
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Letters and Papers from Prison, wrote,
It is a good thing to learn early that God and suffering are not opposites but rather one and the same thing and necessarily so; for me, the idea that God himself suffers is far and away the most convincing piece of Christian doctrine.
For some, the cross is a symbol of death. For others, it signifies victorious living. For me- it speaks of His Love intersecting our present day messy lives with resurrection hope.
Recently, David and I were at the bocaria (dump). This is one of my favorite places to minister. In the natural, it makes no sense. The Mozambican dump is one of the most desperate depraved locations you’ll find on planet earth and the people who live and work there- well, let’s just say they don’t smell all that nice.
After all, this is the rejected rubbish of the capital city inhabitants of one of the poorest nations in the world. Mozambique recently came out as in the bottom ten of the Human Devlopment Index (HDI), and living here, it is easy to see why. The mountain of trash at the bocaria is growing so fast that David thought it was ten meters higher than the last time we visited. Flies are everywhere, and sometimes seem to cover people more than their clothes do. The nauseating stench makes my stomach queasy and my eyes and throat sting from the burning toxic fumes of plastic and refuse. The ground under my feet is sloshy and disgusting and it sickens me to even look at it, but look I must, or I might end up knee deep in something that will leave me with souvenir parasites and worms. Yet, this is where I feel most alive. What’s wrong with that picture????
Well, actually, I think everything is ‘right’ with that picture. It doesn’t make ‘natural’ sense, but it does make spiritual sense. You see, Jesus is never where most people expect to find Him. And it’s a shame, because He’s quite clear about where He likes to hang out – with the broken, the hurting, the suffering, the poor, the orphans, the street kids, the homeless:
I’ve come for the sick, not the well. Matthew 9:12
Go to the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame to my Kingdom feast. Luke 14:15-24
Tell them to care for the widows and orphans, foreigners and poor people…. Tell them to not put their fingers in their ears as if they didn’t hear ME say this.
Tell them not to harden their hearts because they are afraid of what I might command them. Zechariah 7: 10-12
Share your food with the hungry and bring poor, homeless people into your own homes…Isaiah 58:7
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor;
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted…to free those who have been treated unfairly…. Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18
Even still, many of Jesus’ followers hoped He would be a King riding on a white stallion (not a borrowed ass), and others thought He would lead a political revolution
But there really should have been no confusion – all one had to do is look at how Jesus chose to live His life amongst us:
Though rich, Christ became poor, lived amongst them, humbled Himself and died. II Corinthians 8:9
Wow, major bummer and let down for those thinking palaces, castles, riches and plush robes! How insulting it must have been to their grandiose imaginings when he stooped down and began to wash feet- and then told them that’s what they should be doing too! Washing feet! C’mon now, this was in the days before deodorant and foot powders and anti-bacterial insoles. What was He thinking?! Or perhaps, better worded, ‘What sort of upside-down thinking was this?!?’
He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things…so that no one may boast before him. 1 Corinthians 1:28-29
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him? James 2: 5
Photo Credit and thanks to R. Baker for these two and the title photoSo yeah, it may sound crazy or strange or illogical, but I think it’s really right-side up in the Kingdom when I feel at home with God in a Mozambican bocaria. And it’s not because I have a perverse sense of smell or a love for disgusting gross environments, but because I get the privilege of seeing ‘the least of these’ inherit the Kingdom of God. Like when an elderly woman bowed down into the slimy slog after she asked me to pray for her. You see, she wanted to kneel before her Maker, even though she was in filth. And I tell you what. Looking into her Holy Spirit twinkling eyes, I knew the Kingdom of heaven belonged to her.
And there was Jose, a twenty-year-old orphan and an eight-year resident of that dump. Zito, who lives there and I’ve known for ten years took me to Jose to pray for since he had open wounds on his legs as well as respiratory and stomach pains. I first asked Jose if he had given his life to Jesus. He said he hadn’t but was ready to now- so right there in the city’s ‘discard’ pile, God redeemed another life. Jose also felt better physically, but not 100%, so we took him to a medical clinic where God’s agents would help complete the healing. How can you not feel fully alive when God is doing work like that?! A place where ‘the lord of the flies’ thought he won- but God said there is no darkness so dark or no pain so deep, that He can’t transform it! Sometimes I think I can hear the angels partying here, dancing with joy like a Mozambican, testifying of His resurrection power.
All of this and the celebration of Easter remind me about the widow of Nain (Luke 7). Remember her? Jesus interrupted her son’s funeral. Walked right in and told her to stop crying because what had once been dead was now alive!
STOP THE FUNERAL! Resurrection life has arrived.
The bocaria might be an unusual place to celebrate Easter, but I don’t think there’s any place I’d rather be.
Joyous Wondrous Amazing Resurrection Day to you!
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