Christ is risen!
I love these words that the choir sang on Sunday:
But the mightiest part of the conquering power of Jesus
Is how He lifted us
Up from the grave out into the morning light
Rising like eagles with wings to the wind
Down through the dark over death up to new life -
Alleluia! We have risen with him!
In our Thursday Bible study of Acts, we've seen that this is true: not only was Jesus raised through the conquering power of the resurrection, but so were the disciples – as Paul put it in Romans 6:4, "raised to walk in a new way of life." Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus some of my favorite verses in the Bible, Ephesian 1:18-20, in which he said, "I pray that you may know...the surpassing power available to those of us who believe—the same power that God exerted when He raised Jesus from the dead."
In Acts, we see this power at work in all sorts of ways – healings, prophecies, miraculous escapes from prison, incredible generosity, constant prayer, and most of all, boldness to proclaim the gospel, resulting in thousands coming to faith. But here's the most exciting truth:
That same power is at work in you and me because the Holy Spirit dwells in you and me. We have been raised out of our old clueless, overwhelmed, timid, small-minded, do-it-yourself way of life—raised to be new beings with new hearts and a new spirit, with new minds that can see God at work, that can accomplish things we never dared to believe ourselves capable of. We have been raised out of our me-stories and into the God-story.
Are you living that way? Or are you still slugging life out at "I" level?
I ask you this because I'm asking myself this. Here it is Tuesday, and I'm already sinking back into a me-story made up of laundry, bills, graduation details, dirty dishes and mostly the me-movie that runs in my head at all times. Luke leaves those details out of Acts, so I don't know how the disciples dealt with them. I wish he had told us. All he tells us is that they did go on with daily life, only they did it in a whole new way that was marked by mystery and adventure, danger and prayer, fellowship and joy.
The most dramatic "new way of life" I see displayed in Acts is the new behavior of Peter, James and the other disciples. They are no longer navel-gazing. They aren't always asking, "How?" like they were before. Maybe because the Holy Spirit has made the question "how" irrelevant now. They are quick to see God at work all around them and quick to step into what they see. There is that weird joyfulness which is a sign of being raised with Jesus.
Eugene Peterson, in his book Living the Resurrection, writes:
"Jesus' followers live resurrection-formed lives, not by watching him or imitating him or being influenced by him, but by being raised with him."
I had to go back to Acts today and reread it. Because Acts is not just a story. It is a picture of the way of life that has been opened to all, including us. It is a picture of the way we could be living. So if we are not, why not?