As we begin this Holy Week there is no other issue, no other thought more demanding of our attention than that of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. On these facts—and most especially the resurrection—rest the whole Christian faith, mission, and message.
The apostle Paul wrote that if Jesus was not raised from the dead then our “faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14), in fact “futile” (v. 17), and we are without hope in both life and death. Without the resurrection, there would be no hope of deliverance from our fallen state. Humanity would remain forever alienated from God. People could never find true peace with themselves or others; we would be left to stumble through this life bound by our fears and insecurities. Society and nature—all of creation—would remain under the power of injustice, evil, greed, envy, and decay.
Thankfully we who know Christ can proclaim with confidence that “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!” However, the resurrection is not just a personal matter but also the redemptive act of God that touches the whole world! The apostle Paul wrote:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:18–23, NIV 2011).
Paul reminds us that Christ’s resurrection witnesses to us that if we place our trust in him, we, too, will experience resurrection power in our own lives—resurrection from death in every form, including our own sin and the sins of others such as betrayals and broken relationships. But Jesus’ resurrection is not for us alone. It is as Paul so clearly states, a resurrection of all creation, including the corrupted ideologies, institutions, structures, and systems within society that oppress and hinder God’s whole creation from being what it and we were designed to be.
Because of the resurrection, we are more than conquerors at any work to which God may call us, because the risen Christ is in the business of redeeming all of the created order!
You and I, as those empowered by the redeeming power of Christ who is alive and reigns at the right hand of the Father do not bring forth the kingdom of God. This is the work of Christ alone, whose reign will only be fully realized by God’s final intervention in human history. But we are Christ’s body—servants of Almighty God—who are called to be a sign and foretaste of his kingdom, peacemakers bringing shalom to every relationship and to every sphere of life and creation!
If we commit ourselves to work for shalom—seeking first his kingdom—driven by God’s vision for people and the world, we will transform dark places with the light of Christ and the world will see evidence that Christ is alive! That is the Great Commission to which we have been called. Easter reminds us of the great privilege we have been given as we surrender our lives to follow the resurrected Jesus into his world, seeking its transformation into God’s shalom community.
I pray you take time to stop and reflect throughout this week—be reminded of your first love and his kingdom, which you are to seek first as you press into this world bearing witness to the glorious power of the resurrection!
© 2011 by S. Michael Craven Permission granted for non-commercial use.
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