I maintain a love-hate relationship with “Christian holidays”. I enjoy seeing family and giving gifts around Christmas. I enjoy the focus on the cross and resurrection around Easter. However, I do not enjoy the “holy day” aspect of Christmas and Easter. In fact, I think that focusing on the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection on two days of the year can distract believers into forgetting about the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection the remaining 363 days of the year.
Between the crucifixion and the resurrection, the first followers of Jesus huddled together in the upper room, focused on the uncertainty of their position. They were not yet living in the reality of the resurrection. Instead, they were still living in the shadow of the cross… waiting for the resurrection, though they did not know what they were waiting for.
After the resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Spirit, the followers of Jesus no longer lived in the uncertain time between the cross and the resurrection. Things had changed! Jesus was not dead; he was risen! God no longer walked with them; He now indwelled them! Things had changed! Peter, who once cowered in fear and lied in response to the questions of a servant girl, now truthfully answered the Jewish council in boldness. Things had changed!
Today, things change as well. We put on our best suits and new ties, our new dresses and perhaps a bonnet. We decorate our buildings with banners and lilies. We sing different songs and host pageants. We hold more “services” and boast of our Easter numbers. On the outside, we scream to the world, “He is risen!”, but where is the response, “He is risen indeed”?
Perhaps the world does not respond, because they recognize that – unlike the change of those first followers of Jesus – our change is simply an external change, and simply a temporary external change. We are not living in the reality of the resurrection. Instead, for some of us, we have huddled back together living in the shadow of this age… waiting for Jesus’ return, though we do not know exactly what we are waiting for.
What happened? Why do we no longer live in the reality of the resurrection 365 days of the year? Why have we reduced the resurrection to the status of a special birthday party?
What would happen if each believer lived in the reality of the resurrection everyday? What would happen if we lived as if Jesus was serious when He said it would be better for him to go and send the Holy Spirit, who now indwells us? What would change if we truly believed that Jesus was with us always? How would our lives be different if we crucified ourselves daily in order to live in the power and presence of the risen Lord? What would happen if we recognized the spiritual presence of Jesus with us today as being more real than his physical presence with those early disciples?
I am asking these questions to myself, after meditating on the resurrection and the response of the church to the resurrection. Perhaps these thoughts resonate with you as well. If so, please share how you live in the reality of the resurrection daily.