Living the Easter Life

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, “Our Lord’s Cross is the gateway into His life: His resurrection means that He has power now to convey His life to me. When I am born again from above, I receive from the Risen Lord His very life.”

I’ve been reflecting on what this life, this Risen life, this Easter life, means to me. I am unsure whether I am ready for that life because it is not only about communing with God into eternity, but standing in solidarity with those who carry crosses of affliction today.

Living the Easter life means entering into the presence of God with intercession for victims of violence. This Easter season is marked by war in Ukraine, a nation whose Christian population is around 70%. A shooting in Brooklyn this past week destroyed 10 lives and created a culture of trauma for dozens more.  When people suffer, we suffer. Violence dehumanizes us, robs us of dignity, and devalues the sanctity of life.  We are all made in God’s image.

Living the Easter life means advocating on behalf of those who are on the losing end of economic and health disparities. I pray for my friends who go to jail but do not know where they will live once they are released.  I pray for friends who live one paycheck at a time and are forced to map out driving routes to save on fuel.  I pray for friends who struggle to access mental health support and cry out for help by leading destructive, volatile lives.   It is easy to judge.  It is much harder to participate in the lives of others, but that’s what Jesus did for us when He took our sins upon Him at the cross. 

While Christ is busy rolling tombstones out of the way to set the dead free, we keep busy by rolling stones in place to keep people out.

In fact, living the Easter life means entering into broken places not with easy answers, but with a formidable insistence that this Risen Christ is the One who brings miraculous repair and reconciliation in unexpected, surprising ways.  If we stay out of the struggle, we’ll find that we are very far from the heart of God.

One of my former professors, John Claypool, once said, “The worst things are never the last things.” When we pass through the cross of affliction with others, we offer the hope of resurrection glory — of “knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10). 

Have we acknowledged this power, and do we wield it appropriately by praying in Jesus’ name for others?  Or are we trying to exploit power by building up fortifications that keep us safe from the world’s pain and grief?  If we build up enough walls around our hearts, we will only find that we’ve constructed tombs of our own making—Whereas Christ is free from the grave, we are not.  While Christ is busy rolling tombstones out of the way to set the dead free, we busy rolling stones in place to keep people out.

The power of His resurrection doesn’t shelter us from affliction, it associates us more deeply with it.   That is why the cross of death will always be (and will solely be) the gateway to the crown of eternal life.

An Age of Displacement: A Sermon on Isaiah 43

To date, over 4 million Ukrainians have migrated out of Ukraine since the start of the war of Russian Aggression. This matches the near-4 million Afghan refugees that have been displaced do to the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. But refugees and migrants are moving on a global scale, from Asia to South America.

If there is anything that will define this era, it will not be pandemic or political fracturing, it will be displacement and disorientation. This is an “Age of Displacement.”

Worldwide migration is only a symptom of a larger spiritual unsettling happening in the hearts of people. In a recent Christianity Today article, “The Rise of the ‘Umms'”, Mike Moore noted that our culture now contains within it three groups of people: the Nones, the Dones, and (now) the Umms that identify with a deep spiritual disorientation.

In a recent sermon on the cultural impact of displacement and Isaiah 43:16-19, I argue that this is perhaps the greatest challenge–and opportunity–facing Christ’s Church today.