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Jesus is Risen! or I am Mad – You Choose

March 30, 2013

Jesus is risen. Jesus is alive. Jesus lives. I have said these things many times over many years. But they still have real power. They have power at any time, but particularly today they feel especially powerful.

This Easter morning I have finally passed through the hard work of Lent and the suffering of Holy Week. I have passed through the darkness and emerged into the full bright light of Easter. For me today is a powerful, emotional day.

It is like the big fire lit on Easter morning. With flames from our Christmas tree leaping up. The baby born in the stable has grown up, taught, died and rose again. From that fire we light the Easter Candle, the flame of Christ to light the symbol of Christ, the light of the world. The light in my life. The light in all our lives.

I hope that it is for you. But I need to remember that for a huge number of people today is nothing special, except perhaps a chance to eat more chocolate, have an extra day off work, or a family holiday. I can’t expect people outside of the fellowship of the Church to be excited or see the relevance of Easter at all. If I do, I’ll most likely be disappointed.

For many Easter isn’t about hope for the world; no its about a minority interest of a special club that meets on a Sunday. I can’t change that fact, but God can.

I can’t give a blue-print for everyone, but for me the way forward must be personal. I can only share what it means to me to have Jesus in my life. My story will be different from yours. Your story will be attractive to some people and mine will be attractive to others.

It doesn’t take much for the faith, or more accurately the life of faith, to be attractive. Indeed, it is already attractive once I can show that it is for real, for the real world and not some illusion. In a way it matters little what I say. What is more important is the Spirit in which things are said or done. It is the love of Christ changing my life that is the example that is important. This I think is true for everyone. If we do not live the Easter faith then it is a lie. If I do not live the Easter faith then I am a fool, a complete fool. It is only by diving head-long into the faith that I can become more Godly.

I can paddle around at the edges but there I get the worst of both worlds. I have lots of rules that I resent, and little of the grace to help me change. It is only when I let the Spirit take over that the rules and resentment are washed away, to leave the freedom that the Spirit gives. Live a little, don’t just paddle around the edges of real life, throw yourself forward and dive in! Come on in, the water is lovely!

But then I’m mad. Completely barking!l

I see a world alive with spirit. I feel the presence of the risen Christ and I hope that I’m starting to recognise his voice. I speak to God every day, and know that I’m heard.

Either I am delusional, hear voices and have imaginary friends or there is a God who is involved in this world. There isn’t a polite alternative; nothing nice and safe in the middle. That is why many Christians ended up in psychiatric wards during the Communist years of the Soviet Union.

I know that God is real and I can show that he is real. I can show the difference that he has made to me. I can let people see what God is doing; my personal experience of God that I hope people can see and feel to be true. Logic can go so far but it doesn’t get to the heart. It’s like when I first fell in love with Viv. There was some logic. We got on, we enjoyed each others conversation and company. But that wasn’t love. Love came unexpectedly. Love crept up and ambushed me, and tripped me. Like any fall, I couldn’t stop it, I could only go with it. To change the metaphor, I had to dive right in, or give up on the chance of love.

Faith, like love, is not something that I can bottle. It is not something I can prove to anyone as an academic exercise. The proof of love is only seen in the things I say and do. Faith in Jesus is the same. The fact of Easter is made real in me only when it changes me. The Easter faith has to change the way I am, right down to my core, then it will be seen by others.

I misunderstand things. I get things wrong with Viv, and so it’s not surprising that I will get things wrong with Jesus too. Faith like love does not start out perfect. There are stumbles along the way. But it is these that make the love and the faith stronger. It is the tests that show that it is strong enough for all of life, not just the good times.

So I don’t have to be perfect to share my faith in the perfect love of God in Jesus. You don’t have to be perfect either. All that is required of me and you is for us to accept the faith of Easter. Let it sink in deep.

I don’t need to be perfect but I do need to be honest. Honest with myself, and honest with God. God can then work with my failures as easily as with my successes. Then the Spirit can fill and direct me where he wills, which is often not where I might have chosen to go.

So put on those spiritual trunks, go on, look deep into the clear blue water of the spirit and dive right in. Dive in to change yourself and bring that change into the lives of the people you meet.

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