Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter and No More What ifs.

Happy Easter!
Easter is a celebration about the triumph of Jesus over sin, death and the devil.
He was absolutely obedient to the Father and was raised from the dead by the power of the Father.  Jesus was the pioneer.  The promise for those of us who follow him and have been spiritually united with him is that we, too, will be raised from the dead to live with the Father and the Son and the Spirit in eternity forever.  
This is an amazing promise and ought to fill us with hope, joy, love, peace and an overwhelming desire to love God and our neighbor and share this good news in every word and deed.  It is the kind of news that captivates your imagination, changes your life, and gives you meaning and purpose.
But so many Christians and so many churches seem so hopeless.  It’s like they’ve lost the power of the resurrection.  It’s like they are uncaptivated by the excitement of eternal life later and new life now.  
What if the followers of Jesus lived in the power of the resurrection?  
What if....?
  1. What if the Church wasn’t afraid?
    1. We wouldn’t be afraid of what people would say to us - we could preach the Gospel without fear and with joy
    2. We wouldn’t be afraid to share our faith and we wouldn’t be afraid of being rejected by the world or by our friends.
    3. We wouldn’t spend so much time worrying about money but would trust God to provide.
    4. We wouldn’t be afraid of losing everything and even dying for what God wants.
  1. What if the people who went to church strove to be genuine and real?
a.  There would be no “posers” trying to project to everyone that they were better than they really were.   No false humility, false piety, just real people struggling with real sin in light of a real savior.
    1. People would speak differently:  there would be no passive aggressiveness, no gossip, no lies.  They would say what they mean and mean what they said.
    2. They would seek to help each other in their spiritual struggles and bear one another’s burdens.
  1. What if the church always thought long term?  
a. It would be like planting a garden that would be enjoyed by future generations and not just us.  
  1. What if the church thought more about what was good for the kingdom than what was good for the congregation?  
  1. We would always be thinking God sized thoughts that were bigger than ourselves.
  2. We would always think about developing future leaders.
  3. We could be free to “tithe” members to new churches that were starting.
  4. We’d be more interested in multiplying churches and leaders than in keeping the doors open.
  5. We’d be free at last to lose ourselves in pursuing a greater goal than just our own survival.  
  1. What if the church learned to listen to God?
  1. We’d have amazing prayer times together.
  2.   We would know the direction God wanted us to go and could stop struggling internally for power and pride.  
  3.   We might experience times of “inaction” as we waited for the Holy Spirit to reveal his course for us.  
  1. What if the church were all about Jesus Christ and not about us?
  1. We would put Jesus and his Gospel first, last and always.
  2. We would learn how to separate our preferences and personal piety from what Jesus  called us to do.
  1. What if the church thought about thriving and not just surviving?
  1. Then 10% of the congregation would no longer give 50% of the budget - we’d all up our stake in what God was doing here.
  1. What if church were fun - full of celebration, innovation, and creativity?
  1. We’d all invite our friends because we couldn’t wait to show them how much fun it was to worship Jesus and follow him together.
  2. Our kids couldn’t wait to get here each week and wanted to come even when nothing was going on.
  3. We’d all experience a great sense of freedom - the sense of obligation to be here would be gone.
  1. What if the church really believed that people could be changed by Jesus?
  1. We’d always have to believe the best about people because God wasn’t finished working on them yet.
  2.   We’d stop being so judgmental.
  3.   We’d start seeing miracles every week.
  1. What if the church were an environment in which all these things could happen?
  1. Why can’t it be?
Thanks for reading.  God bless you.  PJ 

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