Being raised in a Catholic family, in a Catholic school, and undergoing several theology courses (which I studiously read and researched about), I knew for a fact who Jesus was, his life in general and that Jesus died and was raised on the third day.
It was the same old story every Holy Week for me. But really, what does the risen Jesus mean to me or to my life?
Did it actually even mean anything to me? Why is that most of the time our lives are as if he were not alive? Why is it that we do not reflect the risen Jesus in us? Why are we still angry people, lonely people, anxious and frustrated people living routinary and dead-end lives?
This Holy Week was different to me. This year I was blessed to have attended a retreat, Live Like You Mean It, and also heard the service in CCF by Pastor Peter and Pastor Bong’s afternoon service.
Live Like You Mean It in a nutshell taught me how to Live passionately for God despite the many failures in life, God is our strength – our abilities are limitless. He is the perfect image of success as He rose from the dead. No one can ever measure to His victory and as children of God, we draw life and strength from our father to reach our fullest potential – to be Christlike in every way. He is our father who adds everything unto us as we seek Him first and accept Him in our hearts. (Matthew 6:33)
In the service, we are faced with the truth about Jesus Christ.
Knowing about Christ, we come to encounter 2 Christians:
1. Traditional Christians who go according to tradition yet fail to deliver when asked why they believe and what they believe in.
2. True Followers of Jesus who know Jesus, strive to know him sincerely and are ready to die for him.
How many of us can honestly say that we are ready to die for Christ?
As Pastor Peter says, unless we are ready to die for Jesus are we ready to live for Him.
We do not know how it is to live for Christ if we cannot give up our lives for Him.
TRUTH IS EXCLUSIVE.
There is an absolute TRUTH.
I used to argue that truth is relative to respect individuality. But if truth is relative than 2 + 2 can be 10 or 100.
We can tolerate but we have to acknowledge that there is truth and we should speak the truth in love. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. If you are not for him, then you are against him. There is no gray area. It’s either you believe in Him or you don’t. It matters because in the end it will be just you and Him, and Him knowing if you have lived your life for God.
Why should we follow Christ? How does he stand out from all the others?
His birth was unique – He was born of the Virgin Mary.
His teachings are unsurpassed – to love your enemies as yourself which is the highest moral standard.
His whole life was unique – He gave sight to the blind, He brought the dead to life, He walked on water among many others.
His death and His resurrection was unique – How many others out there have died and have rose again? How many others will tell about their own death and resurrection?
The difference of His life and death is that there was proof.
And many even until now are living witnesses to Jesus.
Many atheists like C.S. Lewis have brought their life to Christ. The greatest example in their time was Paul. He was the chief persecutor of Christians but when he met Christ, he chose to die for Him. Most of the New Testament books was written byPaul – the most evil, horrible person then who crucified Christians and stoned them to death. He had blood on his hands and yet the transforming power of Christ restored him and gave him a devoted commitment and a 180 degree change in his life.
1. Other proofs that Jesus lived was that many historians and hostile witnesses wrote about him. They acknowledged he existed in letters telling they wanted Christians killed because of “this Jesus Christ”.
2. The Empty Tomb was proof that he died and rose again. Romans are the most discplined soldiers. For letting a prisoner escape means death to them. The tomb was sealed, waxed and guarded by soldiers. But no Pharisee, no King, no soldier, no collaborative might from the authorities can stop Jesus from rising again.
3. Women of that time weren’t regarded as important. But it was written that the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection were 2 women: Mary and Mary Magdalene. The latter was not just any woman, she was regarded lower than women because she was treated as unclean. Why write that women are witnesses? And an “unclean” woman at that was the first to testify?
4. Lives of the Disciples. Peter who declared to follow Jesus wherever he went shrunk away when asked if he knew Jesus Christ. Even denying him 3 times. But after the resurrection all were brave to face persecutions and even death. Nothing and no one can stop them from proclaiming that Jesus was alive.
5. Thomas. Doubting Thomas. If you knew him, you would know that he is very much like us. We need PROOF to know that something exists, very much like him. When he doesn’t believe, it would take much to convince him. It would take long debates, senseless arguments. But once he saw Jesus and placed his hands in Jesus’ wounds, he went all out for Him.
God appreciates an honest seeker, he knows your heart and will take the initiative to show that he is Lord like what he did with Thomas.
With all the proofs and the living witnesses of Christ, we know that Jesus rose again. We can hold on to his promise of the forgiveness of sins, victory over sin and an amazing future of eternal life. We can hold on to bible verses – His living word. We know that God is alive.
When you encounter Jesus, you can never be the same. Just look at how much people are transformed and are willing to die. How unbelievers turned to become committed followers. How much wisdom the people we thought foolish possesses. How much strength we thought people who are weak have. Life is never the same.
What is the difference of our faith?
Christianity is never afraid. It is not afraid to be scrutinized, it can be studied and investigated, its proofs are piling up and the truth remains. As you study further, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. You can never truly study or know Christ and come out the same person.
I used to rush into arguments when something about my faith is being doubted by others. But I never really knew Christ then. I was afraid to pick up my Bible and confirm what is true. I was lazy and trusted whatever my professors / priests taught me.
But the moment I started reading and started having a relationship with God, I appreciated more what they taught me and it has been the most enjoyable and experiential theology I have ever had.
Knowing and seeing proof that Christ alive begs my first question then,
What does it mean then to live for Christ?
We have been dead. Living a tired, frustrated, angry, lonely, miserable and meaningless life. But all these cause of sins have been nailed to the cross and have died with Jesus Christ. Because he paid for our sins, we are a new creation and we are resurrected to a new life in Christ if we accept this gift from God. An abundant life awaits our sincere acceptance of this truth.
Seeing the proofs that He has resurrected, we can live for Christ and hold on to His promise that He shall be back again. Our love and service for Christ and for others will never be in vain, because we claim in the proof that he lives. (1 Cor 15:58)
If we truly know Him, we will love and serve Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Or else we can choose to remain living a lukewarm, shallow Christian life and be deprived of a meaningful, abundant, and worry-free life with Christ.
You may choose to continue living an empty life, work for your salvation or you can start resting in the power and strength of Jesus Christ.
Life has never been the same for me when I knew Him. As my friend once reminded me, God did not promise life with Him would be easy, but that He would be there for me and deliver me. I hold on to His promise that life with Him is more abundant, more meaningful and filled with love than I have ever imagined it could be. 🙂