Monday, April 17, 2017

Making America Good Again: Why I Believe

Happy Easter!  Today Christians around the world celebrate that Jesus defeated sin and death and came back to life!   When a person predicts their own death and resurrection, and it comes true, it is logical that you would believe them.

Jesus' astounding resurrection convinced the disciples - and the hundreds of other people who saw him - that He is the Son of God.  Centuries before there was a Bible, centuries before there were Catholics or Protestants, people believed that Jesus was their Lord and Savior.  Those who put their trust in Jesus told more people, and they told more people, and the number of those who followed Jesus grew and grew.

But there is more to the story.  Resurrection Sunday not only honors this historical event, it celebrates the beginning of a new and on-going relationship between God and His creation.  Christianity has grown and spread because of what Jesus did 2000 years ago AND because of what He does every day.

I believe in Jesus not only because generations of believers have passed on to me the truth of Jesus.  And I believe because Jesus is alive today.  There is a hymn that goes:

I serve a risen Savior, He's in the world today
I know that He is living, whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him He's always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way
He lives, He lives, Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

Alfred Ackley wrote this hymn, known as "He Lives", or "I Serve a Risen Savior," in 1933.  While I personally find the tune a little hokey, the words resonate with me because I live them every day:  Jesus lives in me.  I could describe to you hundreds of ways Jesus is  in my life and the lives of others - guiding, comforting, correcting and just being there.

When the Great Commandment talks about loving God with heart, soul, mind and strength, that isn't just poetic language, it is profound truth.  So much of our modern world neglects the soul, but that is where our relationship with God is nurtured.  It is where we find God and God finds us.  God cherishes all of what makes us human - our bodies, our emotions and our minds.  He created us, after all.   Just as Jesus' body was resurrected and made new, so will ours some day.

God also uses all of our senses, emotions and intellect to draw us to Him, but for now, He communicates with us most intimately through our souls, through our spiritual selves.  When we fail to nurture our souls, we may not hear God calling out to us.   This is why prayer is so important.

There is a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.   We can learn all about Him from what others tell us,  but still not know Him.  We can follow His teachings and serve those in need, but still not know Jesus.   We can worship Him with great enthusiasm, but still not know Him.  We cannot know Jesus until we surrender all - mind, body, heart and spirit to Him.  One of my favorite Bible verses says this:

”The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:16-17)

Jesus loves us and wants us to be with Him, sharing in all that He has done for us.  This is why He died for us.  This is why He came back to life for us.  This is why Jesus lives in me and wants to live in you.  This is why I believe.

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