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After Easter Reflections

After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
-Acts 1:3

Today is the day after Easter, the first day of forty days until the day Jesus ascended.  Ancient church traditions call today 'Bright Monday', which is the beginning of 'Bright Week'.

After Jesus rose from the dead, he started appearing to various people.  He surprised them, taught them, reassured them, admonished them and commissioned them.  Christ appeared to and continued to shift and shape the lives of his followers.

The message of Easter is: resurrection life now, not someday.

This is the message embodied in all of Jesus post resurrection stories.  In other words, he is not a dead philosopher or religious leader, who left followers behind, who carried on his school of thought; rather he is a living person who saves people for living his life now.

Have you wondered about how Christians celebrate Easter, saying, "He is risen!", but then can not talk to people about their beliefs or other topics like politics or sex?

This is how I think we fumble the ball:  In our western culture we emphasize doctrine (Orthodoxy) over practice (Orthopraxy).  So, we have minted Christians who know big with their heads, but are small in their hearts.  

I was going to say that we know a lot, but do a little.  That is true, but many people do a lot, but still have cold hearts.  A real Christian is a person who has Christ living in them and knows him.  A real Christian  loves and does good out of love.

We have mistakenly gone down the path of saying, teaching and believing that a Christian is a person who simply believes certain things.  Then, we have Christians who can not stand to be around other Christians who believe different things than them.  We tolerate them.  We have idolized belief or knowledge over love, which has resulted in an ineffective force and our being a laughing stock to unbelievers.

The message of Easter is: resurrection life now, not someday.

If the message was, 'He rose and you will arise', which is like an effort to comfort mourners at a funeral; that is the wrong message, an incomplete message.  

The message is, "He rose so you can live now".

I noticed how we can not talk about some things.  Those things are things like how we believe differently or vote differently, raise our kids differently or view sex and marriage differently.

Why can't we talk about these 'hot topics'?  Why do we hurt each other in the way we talk about topics we see or believe differently?  And why do we "not want to hear" differing opinions?

I would say that love is the key.  We lack love.  We emphasize knowledge over love.

Love listens and accepts people we disagree with.  Having the need to get your point across or set someone straight is not love.

Colossians 3:14 is the verse that came to my mind about this:
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
The context is a passage from Paul about Orthopraxy, living the Christian life:

If then you have been raised with Christ,
Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:
sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
On account of these the wrath of God is coming.
In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Do not lie to one another,
seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved,
compassionate hearts,
kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
bearing with one another
and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
-Colossians 3:1-14

My theory is that we can not talk to each other, because we don't (want to) listen.  And we don't (want to) listen, because we don't love.

We do not mean to not love, but our over emphasis of doctrine, ends up being an under emphasis on love.

If we pursue good doctrine to the detriment of love, what do we become?  If your parents did not love us as fully as God designed parents to love their children and rather than seeking and knowing God's love, you seek sound, pure and correct doctrine.  Then what have you become?

Love is the mark of the Christian.  And loving people listen to and accept people they do not agree with.

Being a Christian is more about how you live and how you love, than what you believe.  We have had a strange overemphasis of beliefs and an under emphasis of love, acceptance and forgiveness.

Jesus said that we would be known by our love for one another.

The indictment against a failed Christianity in our western culture is that when we gather with our families or friends who have a different faith, different doctrine or beliefs than ours, that we either can not talk about it, or if we do, it is an unpleasant fight that might even be nasty.

There is a saying that, 'the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, but expecting different results'.

Love is about listening to and accepting others who are different than whom you disagree with.  The message to take from Easter and into the forty days before the resurrection is that Jesus rose from the dead to give us life to live now.

The message of Easter is: resurrection life now, not someday.


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