Why the Resurrection Matters?

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It was Christmas about three months ago. Here, in the West, we love Christmas. I mean…we LOOOOOVE Christmas! Trees, lights, presents galore! We have special music that dominates the radio waves for like two whole months!!! And then there’s cookies…

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But here’s the deal…

Christmas, in the Christian faith, is not really that big of a deal. I know. You think I’m a heretic. It’s alright. But the story of Christmas and the birth of Christ takes up a seriously small portion of scripture. If we removed all the pages about the birth of Christ, it would probably go unnoticed.

But if we removed all the pages of scripture that talk about the Resurrection…our entire theology would fall apart.

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In the last century, we made baby Jesus and heaven the goal of Christianity. That’s a rather lame reason for Christ to come and die a humiliating, wretched death. Heaven is not the “goal”. Resurrection and transformation are the “goal”. God came and dwelt among us so that we would experience renewal, hope, freedom, and intimacy with Him.

In less than a week, we will gather and celebrate the most important experience of the Christian faith. We will celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I hope you will plan to gather with other believers and celebrate. Celebrate that God is making all things new, and experience freedom and hope that is found in Christ alone!

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

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Jesus said, “Leave her alone”

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In sixth grade, a new girl moved to town. She was a freckled-faced, redhead and she sat next to me on the first day. There are not too many of us freckled-faced, redheads around. And we tend to stick together. You have to, ya know. That red hair stands out in a crowd and it becomes a beacon for bullies.

She was there not even a week and a few boys in the class started in on her. Finally, I had enough and I told them to leave her alone. They didn’t like that so they started in on me. But I had been there. I had accumulated some status in the class. And I had already established a reputation for not tolerating bullies. So the boys backed off.

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In John’s Gospel (chapter 12), Jesus is hanging out with Lazarus and his sisters. Mary breaks open a jar of pure Nard and pours it all over Jesus as an act of adoration. But Judas jumps in. Judas, who seems to be a bully as well as a traitor, gives Mary grief. he harasses her in front of friends, family, and Jesus. And Jesus speaks up for her.

Jesus said, “Leave her alone”!

There have been many times in my life when I have been subject to bullying; as a child, a teen, and an adult. Bullies are not limited to the playground.

Sometimes we confuse bullies with people who disagree with us. Conflict is a normal part of life. We will disagree to varying degrees throughout¬†life. It doesn’t make them our enemy or a bully.

But bullies do exist.

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Bullies use power, status, authority, or physical strength to control and manipulate others for personal pleasure, ego, or gain. Judas was a bully. He attempted to berate and intimidate Mary for his own personal financial gain. But Jesus called him out.

I wish more Christians would do this. I wish we would recognize when others are being bullied and we would step up with the words of Jesus. Instead, some Christians use the words of Jesus to control, manipulate, and bully others.

Any time we use the power and authority of Jesus to control and manipulate others, we are at risk of that power turning on us. Judas found out the hard way when the Sanhedrin turned on him.

Today, we might ask ourselves if there’s someone who needs us to say, “leave them alone”. And, perhaps, you’re the one being bullied. Then take heart! Jesus overcame the bullies of the world when we stepped out of the tomb!

Wake up, sleepyhead! We have work to do. Be a voice for others today.

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When the Universe conspires against you

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There are people who are born and it seems the Universe has conspired against them from day one. Maybe they were born addicted to drugs or in poverty or into a broken home. Maybe they had health problems or parents who didn’t know how to love. These are the ones who need the love of God the most. And they are the ones who seem most afraid of Him.

There’s a story in one of the Gospels where Jesus heals a person like this…one whom the Universe seems to have conspired against. We don’t know his name, only his ailment.

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The Gospel writer says he is possessed by a multitude of demons, so they called him “Legion”. In other words, he had so many problems that his problems became his identity. And he was lost inside himself. Today, we would simply say he was mentally ill.

Legion saw Jesus and asked for help. Jesus had compassion on him. Jesus loved him so much that he drove those demons out of the man and into a herd of pigs nearby. The pigs went wild and ran over a cliff into the sea. But the man was free; calm; peaceful…probably for the first time in his life.

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The townspeople, however, went crazy! Love is powerful. It’s the most powerful force on earth. King Solomon said that “love is stronger than death”!

We know this. Our love even transcends the deaths of our loved ones. It’s why it hurts when they are gone. So love is powerful and, for some people, the power of love is frightening. The townspeople were so afraid of the power of love that they asked…begged Jesus to leave.

This is so true in life. Some people encounter the power of love and they are changed. Others encounter the power of love and they are afraid.

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Celine Dion, in her song, says “sometimes I am frightened but I’m ready to learn about the power of love”.

It’s alright to be afraid. The man named Legion? He was afraid too. But he was ready.

Iknow what it is to be afraid. But, as someone who has encountered the power of love, I have discovered that God’s perfect love will drive away fear. And you will be like Legion…at peace and in your right mind.

It’s interesting when we talk about being in our right minds. We imply¬†logic and reason have come to the situation. It’s our left brain hemisphere, though, that controls logic and reason. It’s our right hemisphere that gives us the sense of oneness with God and others. And what most of us need more than anything is oneness with God and others. Without it, we feel like things are out of control.

I leave you with the words of the angel, Gabriel, “Do not fear! You have found favor with God”!

Today, ask God to show you the power of His love. And you will experience a peace that surpasses your understanding. Take heart, my friend. Jesus has overcome the conspiracy of the Universe with the power of Love!

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