Its been a week since Easter and the social media flurry of Easter Sunday: the quotes on a backdrop of flowers: “He has risen!” and the pictures from Sunrise Services have slowly made their way down my news feeds and been replaced by all sorts of other things. And this week I’ve been pondering what would happen if the modern day Christian could keep up the affects of Easter for more than a weekend.
Would it be possible for us to carry that soberness of Friday and the faith of Saturday and the joy of Sunday a little longer? What if things changed so that the metaphorical full church parking lots of Easter Sunday occurred every single day in the lives of Christians here in America? For the followers of Jesus who lived through the events of the first Easter first hand, it did carry on. Their fervor and devotion did not waver until the day they died. And in contrast, this is what I think our Christian culture is missing today:
A Missing Relationship
The first followers of Jesus already knew him so well. I know it seems sort of obvious to mention, but having a relationship for three years does help in understanding the person you’re following. Those that came after, had to rely on the believers that came before them to help reveal the character of God.
But those of us today have such a wonderful head start that maybe no one other than those who knew him physically had! We have the Bible in our hands this very minute. If you’re reading this on your computer or on your phone or tablet then just type in “Bible” and you’ll have at least twenty different versions at your fingertips immediately! I personally remain old-school and have to have a physical Bible in hand, but I’m also in luck! There is an entire aisle at my local (secular!) book store devoted to Bibles. If you aren’t reading the Bible daily, then you are missing out on a relationship with Jesus that is impossible to replicate in any other way! There is no Easter sermon beautiful enough to keep you spiritually fed long enough to get you to Christmas. And less dramatically, there is no sermon that can get you healthily from one Sunday to the next. We must place a great amount of importance on being in the Word each and every day. Our relationship with Jesus is at stake.
A Missing Purpose
This past week my husband and I were counseling a young believer who had experienced a bitter breakup. We pointed them to Christ and encouraged them to spend more time praying and reading the Word. But later as we talked about it, we realized that one of the biggest things missing from many Christians today is understanding their greater purpose! Many will run to the Lord in time of need (not a bad thing!) or on a sentimental holiday such as Easter (also not a bad thing!) But there is often a disconnect from anything more, and it’s that disconnect that keeps the soul back from the Lord day after day.
Before Jesus went up to heaven, He gave his disciples that which we now call “The Great Commission.” He told them to go make disciples, to baptize and to teach “everything I have commanded you.” This commission would carry them through. It would keep the church not just alive, but thriving in the years of great persecution to come.
We are called not just to a relationship with Jesus for our own little life of satisfaction but its actually SO MUCH bigger than that! We can face heartbreak and disappointments and failures when we know we are not here just for our own happiness and prosperity. We are here to point to Jesus! We each have a unique and important purpose in life. The Lord has uniquely situated us to reach our own corner of the world with the Good News of Jesus! We must make sure every believer knows their purpose!
A Missing Community
Jesus told his followers, while He was still with them, that he was giving them a new command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” This type of love Jesus was asking them to love each other with was so very different from the Worlds standards! It was life-giving and hard and did not allow their fellow brother or sister to slip into sin. It also meant not giving up on them when they did sin and it meant living life together in authentic community (you know, the day in and day out stuff!). Even as I type all those adjectives above I realize I’m not giving an accurate picture! Does that all just feel like words to you? Does a community that looks like that seem almost impossible to find? It sometimes feels that way to me, but I know its possible! It starts with each of us taking responsibility for making that community happen. We are meant to have friends that ask us the hard questions and who listen to the hard answers. We must not leave this type of relationship up to our community pastors or our Sunday school leaders. We all must learn to love each other well (and that’ll take practice). If you read the New Testament its filled with plenty of messiness to remind is that even those early followers of Jesus were human. But there was also so much love for one another, too! I love the picture painted in Acts 2 of the early church meeting together every day to eat and worship together! Maybe we aren’t quite there yet, but I love the idea of having something to strive towards.
A Missing Movement
We cannot talk about the difference between the Church today and the first Believers without talking about the most important moment of all. The thing that Jesus knew they would need above all else in the days and years ahead. On the day of Pentecost, God sent His people the Holy Spirit. This can’t be overstated. Jesus’ followers would not be able to go on without the Helper, and Jesus knew that. I can write out things we should be teaching or doing differently until my fingers fall off, but the truth is we all desperately need the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And for us to truly see metaphorical parking lots filled up with people who are devoted to Jesus, then we must be praying for our own season of Pentecost. Not just for ourselves but for our fellow believers. If you aren’t praying for God to send greater movements of the Holy Spirit in your own community then start now. If you need a little motivation I’d recommend you start reading about great revivals of past generations, see what they all had in common and then start praying for those things in your own churches and communities!
I hope that one day soon, we will truly see the Easter season spread to every day. That there would be such a change in our churches and communities that those who do not yet know Jesus would not be able to ignore the glorious shift of peoples’ priorities and purpose. That the love of Jesus would overflow in a way that our generation has yet to see! Let us be pushing for these changes and above all praying for the Lord to move in a mighty way.
Happy Easter May, Everyone!