Death. It’s the shadow cast over every family. Its sting threatens our smiles and steals our joy.
I have just returned from sitting with a family as their loved one slipped peacefully into eternity. There have been a number of occasions when our God, in His providence, has allowed me into these most intimate of spaces. Each time, the same harsh reality sets in across the room: life is but a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Even harsher is the reality that, to the lost world, death is the peak of hopelessness. To the lost world around us, death reigns as the only constant. So, what can I offer when a family feels the keen sting of yet another death? What hope is there in these fragile moments?
I am currently preaching through the Book of Acts with the dear people of Elk City, First. In our study it became immediately apparent that the early church knew exactly where hope is found. Their hope was not in emotional highs or experiential events. They found no hope in messages of moralism. Their hope was found in our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ!
The premise of Peter’s first sermon is just that. He preached that Israel might know for certain that Jesus, though He was crucified, has been made Lord through His resurrection. Further, in the first four chapters of Acts the disciples mention the resurrection no less than nine times.
When the 11 Apostles set out to find their 12th man, they set out to find, “a witness to His resurrection.” Later in Acts 3 Peter explains that although Israel killed the Author of Life, God raise Him from the dead, and it is to this that they are witnesses. Peter and John insist that, whether it is right or wrong, they cannot but speak of what they had seen and heard – namely, the resurrection. The early church knew precisely where their hope could be found, and as disciples of Jesus, we hold a share in that ancient hope.
Dear friend, whether you stand in a pulpit this Easter or you have divine appointments standing in the check-out line at the grocery store, can I beg you to forsake self-help doctrines? Pastors, can we stop crafting Easter worship gatherings around the feelings of the masses and bring them the message of resurrection? The hope of new life is the only way to break up the routine of a world stuck in a cycle of death.
Lay down the invitation to church attendance. Reject the idea that hope is found in a large Easter crowd and invite people into eternal life through Christ Jesus. As we approach Resurrection Sunday, avoid the empty, feel-good platitudes of religious experiences. Instead, bear witness to the resurrection. Simply stated, in a world filled with death, give them LIFE.
Dear friends, know that I am praying for you this Easter. Lord, may revival fires sweep across our land. Amen.