Last Sunday, the words “He is Risen!” were immediately responded to with the refrain “He is Risen Indeed!” Choruses of “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” were sung and around the world, 2.2 billion Christians gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For people of Christian faith, this event changes everything. Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” In the resurrection, the law is fulfilled. God’s people are freed to live lives of faith and love not because we are under threat of the law, but rather as a joyous response to God’s love for us.
Great. Now what?
It would be great (and in all honesty, easier) for us to live in the afterglow of the resurrection. We could simply revel in the freedom that the resurrection gives to us.
But there’s a nagging problem out there: While God’s law may be fulfilled, God’s vision for the world is not.
We remain surrounded by need. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 795 million people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016. In 2015, 13.7% of Steele County residents lived below the poverty line, according to city-data.com. Over 40% of the children in our school district are on the free or reduced lunch program.
We’ve got work to do. Jesus laid out a vision for a world where all of God’s people live abundant lives. Jesus’ vision becomes our mission. God’s plan for how to fulfill this mission? It’s you and me. There is no “Plan B.” This is the work to which God calls us. And it is the resurrection that empowers us to work to make this vision a reality. Because in the resurrection, we have God’s promise that life is stronger than death. That love is stronger than hate, and that mercy overcomes judgment.
Easter is more than an event, and much more than a memorial. It is a lifestyle. Easter people embrace the gifts of God and reach out to serve those who struggle and are in need. Easter people look at the brokenness of the world and agree that this isn’t ok. Easter people seek reconciliation, justice and peace.
Let’s commit this year to making God’s Easter vision for the world a reality.
This post first appeared as in the “Pastor’s Perspective” column in the Owatonna People’s Press, April 22, 2017