Summary: Learning to harness the REAL power of the Resurrection
Since becoming a believer, I have always wanted to “know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.” (Phillippians 3:10) I really desired to understand the “power of His resurrection.”
As a young Christian, I became involved in a church that was way over the emotional edge and I was convinced that type of behavior was part of a normal Christian life. I thought all “true” Christians were to express themselves that way. I wanted to experience the resurrection power of the “Holy Ghost”. I thought this “power” was some supernatural force that was given to “zap” people and knock them over.
I see many today who continue to seek God’s power in the same way as a "thing" or a "force" that can be used for their own needs and wants. There is a serious problem with this thinking. The “power” of the resurrection isn’t a “thing” or some “force”—it is love!
It was love that exploded Jesus out of the tomb! It was love that sent Jesus into the world! Listen! "God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) God loved us so much that He sent the Son, Jesus, to die for us. It is His love that holds the universe together and that will remain when everything else passes away.
It’s far easier for many to understand the power of the resurrection as a kind of physical might, or an explosive force such as dynamite. Many want that kind of power in their lives because they want to defeat their problems. They want the power to blow away those things that trouble them.
When you realize that the power of the resurrection is love and not some “thing” you can use like a tool, you have the predicament of learning how to appropriate it. It’s a lot easier to destroy things than it is to love. Loving is the hardest task of all, and you can’t do it on your own. In fact, you can’t even love God on your own. You have to ask Jesus to give you the love to love Him back.
Of all the hundreds of laws in the Old Testament, Jesus narrowed them down to just two. When asked by a Pharisee "Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)
It’s easy for us in the natural realm to understand the difference between right and wrong when it is clearly marked before us, such as a traffic sign. We drive down the street and when we see a stop sign, we stop because it says to stop! If a line is drawn in front of us that we are not supposed to cross, we don’t cross it. Those are things we can do because they are clearly defined.
When God says we are supposed to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind, we find ourselves in a real quandary because we don’t have clearly defined signs in front of us.
Jesus then gave the second law: "Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:38-40) Jesus is saying that loving your neighbor as yourself is the same as loving God with every cell of your being!
Now comes the real test: How are you supposed to love your neighbor when you can’t stand yourself? You may live in defeat, you may even hate yourself. Many go to 12-Step programs three days a week and help make psychotherapists rich by trying to deal with the garbage inside of them. Yet they don’t deal with the real problems within because they can’t handle the reality of who is to blame. Their lives stay miserable. They see themselves as useless.
You can’t love your neighbor if you don’t know how to love yourself. You can only learn to love yourself and love God with all your heart, soul, and mind by giving up and giving in to your Creator.
The Old Rugged Cross
During the early years of my Christian walk I spent much of it clinging to the Cross. The song "The Old Rugged Cross” was my favorite. The cross is where I found real life and liberty. I wasn’t afraid of its cleansing power either. If “carrying my cross daily” meant suffering, I didn’t care. It didn’t bother or concern me because I just held on to it for dear life.
Many Christians, once they are “saved,” are afraid of the personal effects of the cross and don’t even want to get near it because crucifixion represents death and dying. They know they must die to self, but they often think that in order to die to self they must perform a kind of spiritual suicide or self-humiliation because they have to put their old ways to death.