A recent article I read was very interesting, and it posed the question of “Are You Living on the Right Side of Easter?” It made a comparison between pre-Easter church mindset, and the post-Easter church mindset. Whatever side of Easter we find ourselves in, it makes a huge influence in our lives personally, and in the life of a church corporately.
- Pre Easter is a mixture of great joy, followed by great tragedy. Where disciples and followers of Jesus are elated then by the end of the week are thrown into the deepest confusion and despair. But a time where religion had become religiosity, an act of obedience full of burdensome rule keeping.
- Post Easter- the resurrection changes everything, or at least it should have with the discovery of an empty tomb. With the post resurrection appearances of Jesus, there is a time of comfort once again, but still mixed in there is confusion. Some still doubt, and then a very great task is given to be completed, more questions, more confusion.
So in thinking about this question of what side of Easter do you live, I turned to 2 Cor.5:14-19.The question put simply before all of us this morning in this Eastertide is “Ok what now?” The answer in a nutshell is verse 15 here in this passage, this is the foundation of the post-Easter mindset.
- 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Do we have this as our focal point of life? Perhaps, but probably not if we were honest with ourselves. Religiosity becomes a part of us, and not the resurrection. We can move right through Easter and not let it effect us one iota. However the resurrection changes everything.
“Ok, What Now?”
- 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
Changing our opinions and prejudices towards others is a mighty tall order. When we compare others to the measure of this world, this is a very sorry state of affairs. When we judge others, (and you know we do) what side of Easter is your basis? Paul says here that we used to regard people from a worldly view, including even Christ!
The post-Easter mindset echoes the words of John Bunyan, a Puritan minister, who wrote the Christian Classic, A Pilgrim’s Progress. John’s answer to this was “ Canst thou not see the face of God in each man?” Victor Hugo in his monumental work, Les Miserable stated, “To love another person is to see the face of God”.
The resurrection changes everything- every person is of value, even that one person that so gets under your skin.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!”
It is a constant battle to free ourselves and others from past history.This is where real hard work comes to meet us face to face.
- Here is where we practice forgiving others as Christ as forgiven us.
- Here is where we begin to cast away old hurts into the sea of forgetfulness, and leave our fishing poles back in the garage.
- Here is where we practice mercy and grace, as that same mercy and grace has been bestowed upon us.
Releasing ourselves from our past takes a quantum leap of faith for some. But if Christ has given you forgiveness by your own acknowledgment of those events, you must forgive yourself, or you make a mockery of the grace of God. You in essence stand then in front of an empty tomb and say this doesn’t apply to me.
It’s even more difficult when dealing with people who have hurt you deeply, or have caused untold national or international tragedies. I would recommend a book, “Mission at Nuremburg” by Tim Townsend. It relates the story of a Lutheran pastor who enlisted at age 50 and was sent into the European theater of WW2 to minister to those wounded in battle. At the end of the war when others were being sent home, he was given the task of ministering to the Nazi officers on trial at Nuremburg. It is a fascinating story of faith, guilt, morality, forgiveness, vengeance and salvation. 21 souls were placed into his care, given a task he would never have volunteered for. 21 souls that the world would pronounce the judgment of death, and yet he served them with compassion.
And the third point is personal and also a commission to every pastor of His kingdom.
- 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
To proclaim the message of reconciliation is not the only task of the pastorate. That task is passed to each and every one of us.
We may stand in a pulpit and declare the Gospel and the truth of God, but we stand in the ordinary as shining lights because that resurrection changed everything!
Our lives are a living testament to what we hold most true to ourselves. Now think about that for a minute or 2. Your life matters, mattered enough for Christ to die for you on a cross. You’re not your own, you were bought with a price. (1 Cor.6:19-20) As evidence of this, we no longer live for ourselves but for Him. What is the testament we have been writing ever since we came to faith in Jesus Christ? That is a sobering thought for a believer with a post Easter mindset.
The resurrection changed everything, but if we find ourselves still in the pre-Easter mindset, there is still an empty tomb that calls for our attention. This Eastertide is the time to cast the old and put on the new. It’s not a time to look ahead to the next big thing, the big thing is you and what will be your response to how you will live your life.
With a post-Easter mindset we will find ourselves seeking the answers to our questions. Struggling with understanding how Jesus would have us to live. We begin to learn the real meaning of sacrifice, and just what it means to really surrender yourself to the Resurrected Messiah.
Ok so what now? Let it begin!