Summary: Christians rejoice always because Jesus isn’t dead - he’s risen!
In the late 1800’s, no business matched the financial and political dominance of the railroad. Trains dominated the transportation industry of the United States, moving both people and goods throughout the country. Then a new discovery came along – the car – and incredibly the leaders of the railroad industry did not take advantage of their unique position to participate in this transportation development. The automotive revolution was happening all around them, and they did not use their industry dominance to take hold of the opportunity. In his video-tape The Search for Excellence, Tom Peters points out the reason: The railroad barons didn’t understand what business they were in. Peters observes that “they thought they were in the train business. But, they were in fact in the transportation business. Time passed them by, as did opportunity. They couldn’t see what their real purpose was.”
When you lose track of your purpose you end up frustrated, disappointed, and defeated. That same type of danger exists for this Christian congregation. Perhaps you shared some of my disappointment and frustration last Sunday when the rain fell and many of the chairs we had rented stayed empty while we celebrated our community outdoor that quickly became an indoor Easter service. I felt frustrated, disappointed, and defeated because I thought that this year we were going to have the biggest and the best outdoor service this congregation has ever had – but when all was said and done I’m relatively certain that we drew the smallest number ever to Friarsgate Park. But, perhaps that’s the reason God allowed things to happen the way they did. In this vivid way God refocuses our attention on our real purpose as a Christian congregation. Last Sunday God reminded us that we’re not in the business of hosting the biggest and the best Easter service in the Midlands – we’re in the business of making disciples for Jesus. We’re in the business of bringing people to their Savior on Easter Sunday and every other Sunday of the year so that together we might Rejoice in our Risen Lord. That’s what God reminds us of through the Apostle Peter as he encourages us to rejoice in our risen Lord because he gives us living hope. We rejoice because he gives us genuine faith.
I read a story about a small boy who was being raised in a frontier town by his grandmother. One night the house caught fire. The grandmother, trying to rescue the boy who has asleep in the bedroom upstairs, was overcome by the smoke and died in the fire. This frontier city didn’t have much of a fire department. A crowd gathered around the house and they heard the small boy crying out for help. The lower floor was a wall of flames and no one seemed to know what to do. Suddenly, a man pushed through the crowd and began climbing an iron drainage pipe that ran to the roof. The pipe was hot from the fire, but he made it to a second floor window. The man crawled through the window and located the little boy. With the crowd cheering encouragement, the man climbed back down the hot iron pipe with the boy on his back and his arms around his neck.