Four Steps to Living the Resurrection Life
Millions of people around the world celebrated the resurrection of Christ over the weekend. For many, the joyful celebration ended after the sermon and life will continue on as normal this week.
But as my childhood pastor always said, we are ‘Easter people’. Easter people continue to live out the Easter message, even when the Easter bunny has come and gone, the Easter egg hunts are over and done with and the Easter baskets are found and emptied of their bright yellow peeps. Easter people not only know what the Jesus story says, but they know what it means. God sent and raised His Son Jesus Christ from the dead so that we be reconciled back to a right relationship with our heavenly father for all of eternity. But Easter is also about celebrating the implications of Jesus’ resurrection for life here on earth too.
I love how the Apostle Paul describes this so-called resurrection life:
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us an unbelievable inheritance!” (Romans 8:17, Message)
How awesome is that? Adventurously expectant…touching God’s Spirit…confirming who we are…filled with hope, joy and blessing! Who wouldn’t want to live the resurrection life?
The challenge for many is not wanting resurrection life, but knowing how to live it out. How do we practice this resurrection life?
Living the resurrection life can seem complex, but maybe it is easier than we think. Romans 8:17, from the version above, tells us it is a gift we receive from God. Could it be that we are simply to receive the resurrection of Christ? How do we do that? Receiving, as a general principle in Scripture, usually comes after believing. Too often we get hung up on whether it’s true or not true, or on little details like whether Jesus literally rose from the dead in bodily form or not. It’s not that we shouldn’t ever contemplate these things. It is right and good that we do and it can lead to deeper understanding. But we cannot miss the importance of ‘belief’ when it comes to living out the resurrection life. If we believe in what Jesus did on the cross and why he did what he did, we will be ‘raised up’ (John 6:40) to live out the adventurously expectant Christian life through the empowerment of His Spirit. That is such good news.
So if choosing to believe is the first step towards living the resurrection life, here are four more practical steps we can take to make room for Jesus’ resurrection life to manifest fully in our lives:
1. Surrender. We’ve got to surrender our own ways and take up His. This is not always an easy decision to make at first, but it is a necessary one. Will we continue to go on living according to our own will, or will we allow Him and His Word to direct our path? Matthew 16:25 says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” It is only when we surrender control of our lives and give Him the reigns, that we experience the true fulfillment and satisfaction we long for.
2. Seek. If after attending church on Easter Sunday and you felt no connection, conviction or meaning whatsoever, there is only one thing to do: seek God Himself. Sometimes this is a simple cry of our hearts, “Lord, help me understand.” Or one of my favorites, “Lord, I do believe, but help my unbelief!” It is a promise that whoever seeks WILL find (see Matthew 7:8). When I re-committed my life to Christ over a decade ago, there was a lot I did not understand about God and why He had to send His son Jesus to die for our sins. I went on an earnest quest to seek out answers. I studied the Bible, read books, asked questions and prayed to God for understanding. The more I sought Him out, the more He revealed Himself to me. Although be warned: the more we seek God the more we actually realize we do not understand. That is the great paradox and hopefully a mark of maturing faith: God’s ways are higher than our ways (and in that way seeming unknowable) and yet He made Himself knowable, reachable and touchable through the very life of Jesus. The good news of the gospel is that we can have an intimate relationship with an invisible God. Seeking (a response to grace) is an important step towards that relationship.
3. Serve. Part of living the resurrection life is to rely on His empowerment to serve others. Jesus himself said that we would do even greater works than He did because we would have the Holy Spirit living in us (John 14:12). If we have been saved, we have been given the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. It is also important to ask God for the supernatural filling of His Holy Spirit, so that we can most effectively serve the needs of others around us through His power and not our own. God gives each of His children special and specific gifts (Ephesians 4:11-12) through His Holy Spirit, which enable us to complete the works He calls us to do. If you don’t know what your gifts are, pray and ask Him to show you. There are also tests you can take online to help you discover your unique spiritual gifts.
4. Sow. Scripture tells us when we live to please the Spirit, we will reap life from the Spirit (Galatians 6:8). This means when we sow or invest our time and efforts into things of spiritual value, like loving, forgiving and serving others, spending time studying the Word, praying, and taking good care of our physical bodies, which are temples for the Holy Spirit, this will result in God’s life and character growing inside of us. This makes for a Christian life that is not dead or boring, but vibrant and alive in Him.
These are just a few practical things we can do to help us live out to the very fullest, the resurrection life Christ promised us through His finished work on the cross. What will your response to Easter be this year? Will you go on living your normal life, or will you take steps to make His resurrection a reality?
**Ponder this: the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is residing within you this moment. Wow.