In a couple of weeks, the Christian church will celebrate the most significant event in the life of our faith. As a matter of opinion and preference, any of the major holy days could hold as much or even more meaning to you than Easter. That is not something I would challenge, because what is meaningful to one on a personal level is not dependent upon another agreeing. But when it comes to the fundamentals of our theology, there is no greater work than that of the Resurrection.
For those who accept the human condition as a legitimate problem for humanity, atonement ranks at the top of the list of needs. The grace of the cross is the difference between Christian belief and every other belief. The unmerited, unearned, undeserved gift of reconciliation is the means by which we become an active part of the kingdom of God. But the Resurrection is the thing that brings the orthodoxy of our theology into the practical application in our life. In other words, the Resurrection provides the ability to live out the new life in Christ that the Crucifixion makes possible.
So many times during my ministry I have seen people eagerly accept the salvation of Jesus’ sacrifice. The idea of eternal security is quite appealing. I highly encourage people to embrace their need for it and to accept Christ as their savior. But in my understanding of the faith and all that it means, there is more to Christ than savior. He is also Lord, and that distinction matters. As my savior, Jesus offers forgiveness, hope, and life everlasting. As my Lord, Jesus offers a life marked by discipleship, cross-bearing, and selfless love. And that is why the Resurrection is so significant.
The lifestyle of faith – and yes, it is a lifestyle – requires far more than I can muster on my own. It requires a strength that exceeds my capabilities. It requires the resurrected Christ to dwell within me and empower me through his own eternal life, the Holy Spirit. The power of resurrection is seen in my own victory over sin and death as I overcome hurtful habits and hateful attitudes. It is seen as I offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me. It is evident when I am able to put the needs of others above my own wants or convenience. And though I will never do all of those things perfectly, the Resurrection also enables me to continue striving for perfection after I have fallen short of it.
It is incredibly easy to memorize Scripture, sing church music, recite sacred readings, and participate in acts of service. It is easy to celebrate Easter and all the pageantry that often accompanies it. It is even easy to accept the salvation that grace makes available to us. But to be a person who is deeply affected and radically impacted by the Resurrection is the stuff the true faith is made of. I invite you to consider whether you want to be an Easter worshipper or a Resurrection disciple. There is a difference.
The Rev. Randall Monk is the lead pastor of Ekklesia Faith Community in Grovetown.