May 13, 2022

Pondering Resurrection

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

— 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

We are now almost one month past our last Easter Sunday. There is always a temptation to move on from celebrating the resurrection. The church service is over, photos taken, brunch complete, eggs found, candy eaten. Now we move back into normal life. Work, school, meetings, appointments. But here’s the problem…

The celebration of Easter calls us into anything but normal life.

Easter isn’t just the day when we remember what Jesus did. It is the day we celebrate resurrection life. New life. Abundant life. Transfigured life. Connected life.

I used to view Easter as my yearly reminder that because Jesus died and rose again I would one day go to Heaven. That’s true, of course—and something to celebrate, for sure. But Jesus’ life means so much more, and our life in him is not a future event. There is a level of “more” available to us right now that I am only beginning to understand.

Having lost my dad a month ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about the eternal. My dad is now experiencing something I can barely wrap my tiny brain around, but I also know that God’s eternal love, joy, and peace are not something we only get to experience after physical death.

Sadly, we often fail to experience the abundance God has for us in this life. In many ways, we walk through our earthly existence blinded to the reality of God’s Kingdom. Why? If we lead a life that is disconnected from his heart, we lack the ability to see ourselves, others, and the world around us from his perspective. We try our best to love and serve him from this broken place, but we miss out on the constant flow of love that is available when we live in intimate connection with him.

Here’s a hard truth. We can’t experience the resurrection life until we know what it means to die. But didn’t I just say God has more available to us in this life? Yes, but we must begin to die to self here, in this life, if we want to experience more of God for eternity. The degree to which we experience an abundant life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23) is intrinsically tied to our acceptance of death, Jesus’ and ours. That’s some good old Kingdom paradox for you.

This doesn’t mean entering into self-rejection or condemnation. It simply means surrendering all that we are and all that we have into God’s faithful hands—even those things that seem good. I remember someone once suggesting I should surrender my dreams to God. I have to be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of that suggestion. This was during a hard period in my life, and I could only think—Now he wants me to give up my dreams too? That’s all I have left. No way!

Eventually, as I learned to trust God more, I began to understand. God loves us so much that he doesn’t want us clinging to anything that isn’t his best for us. All our best intentions are worthless when compared to his immeasurable greatness. If we allow ourselves to be filled with anything that is not from him, we decrease our own capacity to hold the love he longs to pour into us.

This is a divine exchange, a continuous cycle of surrendering and receiving. With each act of surrender, he imparts more of himself to us as we are transformed into his likeness. It can’t be done by clinging, only releasing.

Does such transformation guarantee health, wealth, or success? Certainly not in the way the world views those things. Does God heal? Yes! Does God provide? Of course! Does God help us conquer insurmountable obstacles? Absolutely! But those things don’t always look like what we expect. Jesus made it clear. “In this life you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Resurrection life means moving through the cross into the place he has prepared for us, which is his own heart—our true home. This can’t be done if our feet remain firmly planted in our own temporal existence, clinging to our selfish desires.

Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ victory over death and his redemption of all that has been broken since the Fall. Jesus’ resurrection is the ultimate triumph of life, real Life, in which darkness cannot exist. His death was once and for all (Heb 10:10), but the process of redemption is ongoing. Unless we allow ourselves—broken and hurting though we may be—to step into this continuing Easter narrative, we will miss much of what God has for us today and every day.

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