Monday, April 6, 2015

Why Christians remind one another, "He is risen."

On Easter Sunday, a prominent young Christian posted a photo on Instagram.  It was simple...just three words against a plain background:

 "He is risen."

Many responses were supportive.  Some were just weird.  (You know how those social media comment sections are...there are some looney birds hanging out on their computers.)  But one caught my attention.  It was a comment that said, "I don't know why Christians continue to use that phrase.  It is outdated and silly. We look at it and think it is just useless, meaningless."

I have chewed on that all day, realizing that, to a world that chooses to live apart from relationship with God, denying His very existence, it may truly seem silly, useless, meaningless.

So, whoever you are, I would like to explain why we use the phrase "He is risen" at Easter.

Christians have been persecuted for centuries.  Early believers would find themselves in hiding, trying to survive waves of torture and death, trying to protect themselves and their families.  Knowing who you could trust could be very difficult.  But they came up with a symbol that was known only amongst the followers of Christ which enabled them to identify those who were a part of the brotherhood. says:

When threatened by Romans in the first centuries after Christ, Christians used the fish to mark meeting places and tombs, or to distinguish friends from foes. According to one ancient story, when a Christian met a stranger in the road, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good company.

Not only was this smart, it was beautiful.  Imagine the relief in the heart of a desperate, scared, on-edge follower of Christ when they drew one arc of the fish and the stranger beside them joyfully drew the other.

"He is risen" holds a similar significance to us today.  Why?  I can give you three reasons:

1.  Because persecution is on the rise.  Darkness is encroaching and taking over the world and we feel it crowding us together.  Why would anyone hold to a "narrow" faith, a silly need for a supernatural Savior when the world tells us we can achieve a higher consciousness by looking deep within ourselves? Because, as the Christian recording artist and author, Andrew Peterson, often reminds us...

"The stories are true."

In other words, He IS risen.  Our faith is not in vain.  We hold to and are held by a real God whose real son died a real death and walked out of the grave ALIVE AND WELL.

2.  We have seen the headlines, the beheadings, and most recently the slaughter of 147 precious children of God in Kenya...not because they were black, but SOLELY because they were followers of Jesus Christ. (Go here if you want more information, but I warn you the images are graphic. But sometimes we need to face the reality in order for us to fully realize what is going on.)  We see these headlines (or the appalling lack thereof) and we know that the persecution is coming our way.  We know there is a time coming when it will be our necks feeling the cold blade of the executioner, when we are told to reject Christ or die.

But He IS risen.  He promises it will be worth it all and He proved it by regenerating his mutilated, dead body, folding his clothes neatly, and walking OUT of the TOMB.

3.  We are watching the battle rage over our children and their genertion.  We see how crafty the enemy is, how he is wooing and deceiving our young ones who want to just fit just be normal.  But we know normal is usually not Godly, normal is most often not Holy.  We know the things that tempt our kids will destroy them if not placed under the authority of Jesus and, unless they KNOW who they are and Whose they are, unless they take hold of the FACT that Jesus conquered sin and death and walked away from it victorious, having been seen ALIVE and WELL by over 500 witnesses...unless our children can answer "He is risen" with a confident "He is risen, indeed!" they will not have what it takes to stand up to the incredible peer pressure all around them.

And, mamas, lest we forget...our faith is not in our parenting or any "how-to" book on raising kids.  The battle is painfully, blistering hot and we will be tempted to run away from the heat without the Truth to protect us.  He IS risen, His promises ARE true, we CAN trust Him, even with the most hardened teenager, the most critically ill child, or the most debilitating of special needs because HE IS FULLY AND COMPLETELY ALIVE.  There is more to the tapestry that we cannot see on this side of Heaven, more to this life than what we are living in the present.  We serve and obey a God who put His money where is mouth is...He gave it all, intentionally and freely, for us.   Then, He walked out of that stinking grave clothed in clean linen with the scars to prove it to anyone who doubted.  (Because He knew us.  He knew we would doubt.)

Is that not the most amazing, freeing, ridiculous, beautiful, sci-fi worthy thing you have ever heard?  I understand why you may think we are crazy!  But you need to understand that we say "He is Risen" because we need to remind one another that the resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith. We can and, through the strength of the Holy Spirit, will endure.  Yes, we know it sounds unbelievable, but if He is not risen we have no hope.  If He is not risen we are wasting our time. The evidence, though is there.  It is in history and in the Word of God.  Research it for yourself.  God understands your need for proof.

Jesus IS risen from the dead.  I hang my hat on it.  I hang my eternity and the eternities of my children on it.  I hang my marriage and all of my friendships on it.  He IS risen.  Seek Him and I PROMISE you will find Him.

The stories are true.

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