Summary: To know real and lasting power means admitting that we fail at what we do (repentance), giving over the control of our lives to Christ (faith), and obedience.
The speech choir has asked us a pointed question, "Were you there?" "Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?" They went on, "Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?" And finally, "Were you here when He rose up from the grave?" Were you there, they want to know.
You can say we were, because our issues are just like the issues of those who lived then. Our needs are just like theirs. In a sense we were there, as Christ died once for all people in every time and in every place.
But then, we weren’t there either. We didn’t literally see the crucifixion; we didn’t experience first-hand the pain and the shame. We were not there in the immediate sense. We didn’t stand in awe at the cross or stumble down the garden path to the empty tomb. That was all two thousand years ago, way back in history. And we weren’t there. We are here! We are here now! So what does His being raised have to do with you and me today? We are not there. We are here. What can we experience today?
I am carrying around a dirty little secret. Would you like to hear my dirty little secret? Believe me, I would not tell you my secret if I did not think it was yours too. I believe that what plagues me attacks you too. It happens to all of us.
That dirty little secret is ... that I cannot even begin to do what I want to do, and, more than that, I cannot honestly claim to have done half the things I’ve pretended to do! The story of my life, and, I suspect, of yours, is that there are so many things we think we want to be and to do, but we just cannot do them. We cannot. And, worse than that, there are so many things we pretend we have done, but they are a facade. They are not real. They are a sham.
A dirty little secret, isn’t it? I cannot even begin to do everything I want to do. I start out every day with a long list of tasks to be performed, I dutifully put them into my computer, which spits them back out at me. I prioritize. Twenty tasks to do today, in order. What happens? How does it go? I do the first two or three things, and then hit one that’s too hard. It looks boring. So I’ll skip it. Set it aside for another time. Procrastinate. I don’t ever get done all I think I ought to do. I feel powerless.
Worse than that, there are things I want you to think I have done, but I haven’t. There’s an image I want to project, but that’s all it is, an image. It’s not real. A Russian general named Potemkin wanted to make things pleasant for the Czar to see as he traveled, and so built villages that were just the facades of houses, nothing behind them. Too much of my life is like that. I bring you to my home and I tell you I have painted the woodwork at our house. But don’t pull out that couch, or you will see that I didn’t paint behind the couch. I show you bookshelves I constructed; you are supposed to be impressed with my handiwork. But don’t pull on that one over there, it was never anchored to the wall. It’s not really finished. It might tumble down.