I wrote the other day how The Empty Tomb reveals three fundamental character qualities about God. The bodily resurrection of Christ proves that God is faithful, powerful, and willing.
It will be very easy for you and me to celebrate these truths on Sunday. It's the premier worship service of the year; churches pull out all the stops, as they should, to remind us of the significance and magnificence of this event. Without Easter Sunday, the Apostle Paul says our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14,19).
I'm in favor of celebrating Easter Sunday with passion, but I'm also in favor of being passionately honest. I want to do that with you today by asking this question: what happens after the celebration dies down?
After The Celebration
I remember the night in 2008 when the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series. I live in Philadelphia, and the celebration was unlike anything I've ever experienced. Tens of thousands of people spilled onto Broad Street late at night to celebrate the city's victory.
A few days later, I walked down the very same street. It was shockingly different, and I felt let down; you could even say the drastic change was depressing. I wanted to see crowds of strangers hugging and high-fiving and celebrating with joy. I wanted to see people shouting victory's cry, but the street was quiet and littered with trash.
Sadly, I think the same can be said of some Christians after Easter. We celebrate on Sunday with vigor, but a few days later, we fall back into the same mundane pattern of everyday life. We often live as if Easter hasn't happened.
Three Ways To Live
1 Corinthians 15 is arguably the New Testament’s longest and most detailed treatise on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the end of the chapter, the Apostle Paul gives thanks for the Easter victory, but immediately follows it up with three ways to live.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).
1. With Unusual Stability
Paul uses two words: steadfast and immovable. Is your life a picture of that kind of stability? Is your everyday life anchored in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and His victory at Easter, or are you blown around by the winds of difficult circumstances, relationships, and realities of life in a fallen world?
Remember, The Empty Tomb teaches us the God is faithful, powerful, and willing. As such, you have every reason to stand. You don't need to give way to fear and doubt; you can stand on the Rock.
2. With Lifelong Activism
Because of Easter, Christians should "always abound in the work of the Lord." To abound means to be enthusiastic and hopeful, motivated and courageous. If you actually believe that God can rise from death, and that He reigns in power, what do you have to be afraid of?
We ought to believe that the sexually addicted can be delivered; that rebellious children can become submissive; that broken marriages can be healed; that fearful people can know courage; and that the depressed can rise to live with joy again.
Enough of survival. People "live to survive" because they don’t expect many good things to happen. But we believe in victory. We believe in life. We believe in life abundant. We believe in transformation. We believe in deliverance. We believe in the resurrection.
3. With Realistic Hope
The empty tomb of Jesus Christ must be the lens through which we look at and interpret life and ministry. Because of Easter, we believe that the present work that God calls us to "is not in vain."
Why does Paul have to remind us of this? Because he knows our location and our hearts. He knows that we live and minister in a fallen world; that can be very discouraging! And he knows that our heart will forget Easter and be filled with fear and doubt.
But Paul tells us to root our heart in this one truth - that our labor is not in vain. Christ conquered sin and death, and He's coming back again, so we can be confident in our daily role in the redemption process. In the darkest of nights, when progress seems invisible, we can have hope.
By all means, celebrate Easter like never before. But don't let your celebration end on Sunday evening. Let your confidence in the Risen Christ shape your everyday life.