In 2006, while suffering the humiliation and consequences of my own sinfulness, I received an email from a Los Angeles Times reporter, whom I’d never met, with this message:
“Remember, we are Easter People!”
Easter is the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and his resurrection allows us to come alive in him. So on Easter Sunday morning we are celebrating his resurrection and his life in us. Resurrection lets us all begin life anew.
With Christ’s redemption comes the assurance of eternal life and of Heaven when we depart this earth. And because of that assurance, as we grow in the reality of God’s resurrection power within, we grow in freedom from fear of death, as well as freedom from the sins that used to darken our lives and separate us from God.
This is why we Christians celebrate our experience in him every Sunday morning. Sunday reminds us of our new beginning in Christ. It’s the first morning of the week, which is a natural start for a new beginning. It reminds us that since Jesus rose from the dead on the first morning of the week, we too can experience that resurrection power. As we celebrate being forgiven, renewed, re-created, refreshed, empowered, and uplifted by his Word and his Spirit, we see hope for our future. We gather world-wide on the first morning of the week to experience a new morning in us . . . a new life through Christ, our risen Savior.
Christians believe in resurrection, even on our darkest days. I am reminded of a two-page hand written letter I received from Oral Roberts in the midst of my 2006 scandal. He enclosed $200 as a seed for my future ministry and encouraged me by writing that I would indeed resurrect. He wasn’t talking about eternal life. Instead, he was talking about my future life of meaningful ministry here on earth after most thought I was as good as dead and buried. Actually, I was. But Jesus resurrected me from the dead. Now I can say with grateful resolve,
“I, too, am an Easter person!”
What’s more, resurrection life not only impacts our personal lives, but it also influences the world we live in here on the Earth.
As many of you know, when we experience Christ’s resurrection power in our hearts and minds, we forgive, we heal, and we love. That process empowers healthy, long-term relationships, better family dynamics, and increased self-control. We delight in helping others, and in pursuing justice, peace, and contented lives. We also are grateful for the opportunity to get back up when we stumble, and to extend that same opportunity to others. We delight in using the power and grace God gives us to serve others. And we know that Christ is indeed risen from the dead and alive in us because we have become the living proof of his resurrected life.
God also often gives us the ability to change the world around us. It was, after all, Christ’s message that leveled the status of every individual, making slave and master, rich and poor, weak and powerful equal before God. The Christian reformation proclaimed that even the royal families (who typically claimed superiority over others as God’s special representatives) were equal to all others before God. When we emphasized that all have equal access to God through Christ Jesus our Lord, resurrection not only influenced individual people, but changed entire nations.
As a result, the foundation of Western law and society is the inherent worth of each and every person. According to Harvard professor, Jordan B. Peterson, in his book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, that was not the case in the past, and is not currently the case in most places where the church lacks influence. It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that many of the hierarchical slave-based societies of our ancestors reorganized themselves, under the sway of an ethical/religious revelation, such that the ownership and absolute domination of another person is now viewed as wrong.
This is just one example of what Jesus’ resurrection has done for us. Since, in fact, Jesus’ resurrection provided access to God for all who believe, it gave dignity to all, and provided the way for us to become better people.
Don’t get me wrong, however, I am not saying that our application of our faith has always been perfect either in our personal lives or in our civic engagement. History proves otherwise. But, historically speaking, the problems created by our misplaced application are often the sort of problems that emerge only after an entirely different set of more serious problems has been resolved. We grow in resurrection from glory to glory, and our civil application of our faith develops over time as well too.