I sometimes have weeks where I am around a lot of people and the conversations can get a little bit monotonous. I can get bored. Tasks keep piling up like that pasta bowl that you’ve been chowing down on for 30 minutes but it feels like nothing has changed, all the tasks and pasta are still there. It can get overwhelming at times. Can you relate? We constantly are putting on all different hats from husband to dad to job (student pastor) to student to friend to a neighbor to miscellaneous hats you didn’t really want to wear but its got to get done. You with me?! We really have to be careful to fight this monotony knowing that there are many nuggets of goodness right there; we just need to seize them! It’s all about perspective and pausing just long enough to maybe capture that beautiful moment. Sometimes I intentionally force myself to go on a drive and just pray. I ask God to get my heart right, change my perspective, and open my eyes to what He wants me to see. When I am wearing the Student hat and I am reading a lot and I have final projects due, I pray this “give me a nugget of goodness please, I need some encouragement” He answered my prayer and here it is…
On p.603 of The Resurrection of the Son of God Wright addresses “The Strange Absence of Personal Hope in the Stories” and this section really stood out to me…
If Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wanted to tell stories whose import was ‘Jesus is risen, therefore you will be too’, they have done a remarkably bad job of it. Instead, we find a sense of open-ended commission within the present world: ‘Jesus is risen, therefore you have work ahead of you.’ This is very clear in Matthew, Luke, and John; even in Mark the women have an immediate task (though whether they do it or not we must discuss later), and the angel’s message through them to the disciples, especially Peter, implies that they are going to be given things to do as well. This mission coheres closely with the missionary imperative displayed in Paul and Acts.
The Observation that I look forward to passing on to others in my sphere of influence is this… The Response to the Resurrection then & now is not just a “sigh of relief, Thanks! What Jesus came to do is now finished. Let’s pause and bask in it.’ It is not the end of the story, in many ways it is the beginning of a narrative that we “get” the privilege to be involved in. Yes, I am so thankful for Jesus death, burial and Resurrection. The Gospel has transformed from old to new creation. I am very thankful for this reality. I need to pause in this reality often. But not for too long, because ‘Jesus is risen, therefore you have work ahead of you.’ Yes, we do! What a cool Discipleship reminder. Appropriately remind ourselves of the Gospel often, be thankful, but the Resurrection should motivate us to “open our eyes” to the world around us and be continuing this Jesus mission that was passed on to those that saw Jesus alive again. What a privilege we have!
In NT Wright’s words “The stories are about something else altogether: the vindication of Jesus, the validation of his messianic claim, and the commissioning of his followers to act as his heralds, announcing to the world its new, surprising, but rightful Lord.” Good stuff right there!
How selfish would I be to have my confidence built up around such an important theme like the Resurrection and not want to talk about it with others who lack this confidence? I give some reasons why we can have the confidence of the truth of the Resurrection here. Like the example of a friend who has been poisoned but I have been given the serum. Of course, I will do whatever it takes to find my friend and give him the cure! If we call ourselves followers of Christ, we have this calling on our lives. It’s called Discipleship. We then join in a long line of rag tag, not qualified men, women, boys and girls who believe in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This reality has transformed our perspective and worldview. We hear the stories of the not so confident Apostles turned confident by this reality of encountering Jesus alive again. Sean McDowell in his book The Fate of the Apostles does a great job sharing these stories. He examines each account of Jesus closest followers to validate the authenticity. As we see these stories of disciple after disciple passionately following the mandate of Jesus to continue his ministry, all the way to death. We should be thankful to them and more motivated to move forward passionately continuing this mission.
Jesus last words to his closest followers were “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
They obviously took these words seriously. The Resurrection, seeing Jesus alive again, had the power to change them because 2,000 years later we are still talking about it right here in this blog, crazy.
In the end, What helps me to keep my sanity and turn off my brain so that I can sleep at peace with this crazy world we live in is this simple truth spoken by Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:6 “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, But God has been making it grow”. There is no perfect formula for conversation around the Resurrection and the Gospel. We all have our different obstacles. I know this, ” I once was blind, but now I see” is true for me. I am very thankful for the seeds that were planted by people that cared for me, others watered those seeds, but in the end, God had to do a work in my heart and I am forever changed and forever thankful. I am thankful to all parties involved, the seed planter, the one who waters and to this God that loves me unconditionally. This confidence in the Resurrection can give us hope in whatever circumstance we might be facing. if you are in need of Hope, stop and Pray. Ask this God to reveal himself to you. He might do it right then, or he might just put a few seed planters and waterers in your path to help open your eyes to this Hope. The work of Jesus Life, Death and Resurrections is finished! Now we need to accept this finished work and be changed by it. Once we are changed by it, confidence begins and we now “get to” pass it on to others. What a fun cycle, this is called discipleship; we now get to be in the action of being Hope givers, no better job!