By Curtiss Paul DeYoung
Our time is traumatized by tragedy; people are looking for a word of triumph. Our day is darkened by despair; people are searching for a word of deliverance. Ours is an hour haunted by helplessness; people are seeking for a word of hope. We, as Christians, have that word: resurrection!
Understanding the doctrine of the resurrection is important. But living, as well as proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus, is vital! This was central in the lives of the apostles. “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was with them” (Acts 4:33 NIV). The power of the resurrection must invade our own daily lives.
The resurrection must affect how we think of Jesus. He is more than a great teacher and example. There is more to Jesus than his earthly life. Yet he cannot be divorced from his earthly existence. The resurrection completes Jesus’ historical existence and declares it eternally valid.
The resurrection provides a continuity between the earthly Jesus and the glorified Christ. The two are the same. The risen Lord continues to act for humanity as he did while earthbound. For us to know the risen Christ in his fulness, we must, through study of the Scriptures, become acquainted with the life and teachings of Jesus.
The resurrection is a confirmation of life. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have been granted the opportunity to choose life eternally. Because of the resurrection, we need not fear death. Death is not the end. The resurrection demands that Christians be against all unnecessary death: nuclear war, poverty, abortion, violence. As Gustavo Gutierrez writes, “Belief in the resurrection is incompatible with the acceptance of a society that condemns the poor to death.”* The resurrection, in its essence, is life-giving.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a victory over evil. It gives hope to those who daily battle against evil influences in the world. It authenticates everything that is good. G. Earl Guinn preached that the resurrection proves “the indestructibility of goodness and the ultimate doom of wickedness.”**
The resurrection speaks of freedom. It declares that Jesus is the world’s salvation and that those who believe are freed from the power of sin and death. The resurrection liberates people from what imprisons them and gives them the power to fight oppression. The resurrection can free Christians from selfishness, self-will, and the fear of death. That means if we choose to live the resurrection, we can risk our lives for the creation of the kingdom of God because we are free.
The resurrection gives us a life of hope. Christians should not allow a negative attitude or a spirit of defeatism to overtake them. When depression seems to take control, believers must allow the spirit of the Resurrected One to empower them and lead them to “a living hope” (1 Pet 1:3). Negative attitudes and defeatism were characteristics of the disciples before Easter, not after. The Christian will also need to be filled with this resurrection hope when dealing with people who are suffering and dying. Hope gives the Christian courage to face the unknown.
Finally, the resurrection shows us that God loves us. The resurrection opened the eyes of the disciples to who Jesus was. He was Emmanuel., God with us.
The resurrection must transform us into ambassadors of love. God’s unconditional love, as exemplified in Jesus, must become our model. We must learn to love ourselves first. God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to die and be raised. If God loves us that much, we should love ourselves. We must also love others. We must reach out a helping hand of love to those who are hurting. We must love and try to reconcile those who hate us, our enemies. The resurrection of Jesus has not fully transformed our lives until we can love and be loved.
Let us proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a word that the world desperately wants to hear. Let us live in the spirit of our resurrected Lord. We must say as Paul did, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection (Phil 3:10 NIV). It is not enough to believe the resurrection—you must live it!
Curtiss Paul DeYoung is the CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches and former pastor at First Church of God in Minneapolis. Article originally published in the April 19, 1987, issue of Vital Christianity. Republished by permission.
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*Gustavo Gutierrez, We Drink from Our Own Wells (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1984), p. 118.
**G. Earl Guinn, “The Resurrection of Jesus,” in The Twentieth Century Pulpit, ed. By James W. Cox (Nashville: Abingdon, 1978), p. 77.