Last week I asked you to pray that I would be found guilty of being a Christian. In a way that was a foolish request. I was baptized at age 6 and confirmed as a member of the Methodist Church at age 11. I received a call to ministry at age 14 and my first appointment as a preacher at age 20.
For the past 44 years, I have faithfully preached the gospel, introduced people to Jesus, led congregations into their communities to feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, care for persons with HIV/AIDS, etc.
To ask that I be found guilty of being a Christian was foolish.
What Does it Mean to be a Faithful Witness?
In another way, I was asking you to pray that I am a faithful witness to the Resurrection of Jesus. Luke, over and over, uses these words to express the life and work of the early disciples:
- “…of that all of us are witnesses” – Acts 2:32
- “To this we are witnesses…” – Acts 3:15
- “And we are witnesses to these things…” – Acts 5:32
- “We are witnesses to all he did…” Acts 10:39
I want you to pray that I am a faithful witness.
The question is, “What does it mean to be a faithful witness to the Resurrection?” Here are a few possibilities.
Possibility #1: To Believe the Resurrection is True
Is it to believe that the Resurrection is true?
For many people today, belief in the Resurrection simply acts as a guarantee of eternal life. We talk about Jesus being raised from the dead and how he is going to take us all to heaven one day. I must say I don’t believe God raised Jesus from the dead to prove that he could raise a few cantankerous saints.
God could do that.
The belief in our own immortality is persistent. It seems, that for many of us, belief in the Resurrection is actually a barrier to the reality of it. We can find people within the church who affirm the Resurrection for selfish and self-serving reasons. It is all centered on the desire to enter heaven. I believe God raised Jesus from the dead for a different purpose.
Possibility #2: To Live the Truth of the Resurrection
Is it to live the truth of the Resurrection? In and through the Resurrection, God established permanent residence on earth. The Resurrection places Jesus on this side of the grave, here and now, in the middle of this life.
Jesus is not standing on the shore of eternity inviting us to join him there. He is standing beside us, strengthening us in this life.
The good news of the Resurrection is not that we shall die and go home with Jesus, but that Jesus has risen and has come home with us. On the morning of the resurrection, God put life in the present tense and gave us the power to live in the here and now.
The early disciples proclaimed, “He is risen!” not because the dead rise. They made this proclamation because they were alive and were doing the things he had taught them to do.
Being a faithful witness to the Resurrection is to proclaim, “He is risen” by doing the things he has taught us to do. In and through the Resurrection, our lives are reshaped to conform to his life. Because of the Resurrection, our minds are reshaped to conform to his mind, and our living is reshaped to conform to his living.
Possibility #3: Being the Living Presence of Christ in Everyday Life
The good news of the Resurrection is Jesus has risen and has come home with us, bringing all his hungry, naked, thirsty, sick, prisoner sisters and brothers with him. What if being a witness is not related so much to what we believe but is the primary way we respond to the hopelessness and brokenness in the communities in which we live?
Does the living presence of Christ show through our living?
The good news of the Resurrection is Jesus has risen and gives us the courage to confront the evil powers of this world. The evil powers of racial bias, gender bias, cultural bias, economic bias, residential bias, educational bias do not stand a chance against the power of the Resurrection.
What if being a witness is not based upon an affirmation of Christ’s living presence, but upon the incarnated presence of Christ in each of us? Would that mean that our faith in the Risen Christ would be seen in the way we love and care? And not only in how we care for each other in our church families but for everyone. By everyone, I mean all who are hungry, naked, thirsty, sick, prisoners – all our sisters and brothers Jesus already loves.
Be the Resurrection
What if we, as Christians, are not called to believe in the Resurrection but rather are called to be the Resurrection? Christ’s presence will be witnessed in what we say and do.
This season of the Resurrection, I continue to hear the words of Peter Gomes:
“…the resurrection is a continuing event which involves everyone who dares be involved in it. Easter is not just about Jesus, it’s about you.”
Jesus has already claimed his new life. What about you? Easter is not just about the past, it’s about the future. Your best days are ahead of you. The proof of the resurrection is in your hands and in your life.
“The proof of the resurrection is in your hands and in your life.” Please pray that I am a faithful witness of the Resurrection! And know that I am praying for you.
O God, raise Jesus in our lives so that all we do is a witness to your love and presence. So let it be!