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Mar18FriChrist frees us from the chains of death and darkness. March 18, 2016 by General André Cox
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Around the world on Easter morning, many Christians will gather for a sunrise service in which the proclamation will be made: “He is risen!”
What a glorious celebration Easter Sunday represents for each one of us! God, in raising Christ, has broken the power of sin and set us free. God, in raising Christ, has established a sure eternal future for each one of us.
The chorus to Robin and Bill Wolaver's song Make His Praise Glorious says: “Shout with joy to God all the earth, sing glory to his name. Tell aloud his marvellous worth, his righteousness proclaim. Glory and honour and blessing and power be unto the Lord! Come and let us make his praise glorious.”
As we celebrate the reality and the glory of the risen Christ, our hearts are filled with praise and worship as we gain new insight and understanding of God's eternal purposes and his plan of salvation for the world.
God's Redemptive Plan
For many people, religion is nothing more than an intellectual philosophy—something that we do only on special occasions or in a specific context which, sadly, has no bearing on the way that we live and act in our lives.
Sadly, too easily we can miss the point, for the whole message of Easter tells about life-changing power. It is not about philosophy or religion; it is about a personal relationship with God, made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross!
Paul, in writing to the Colossians, says: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (3:1-3).
Our relationship with Christ, and his life within us, enables us to look at things from a different perspective. Christ has become the centre of focus for our lives. It is far more than going through the motions, observing rituals and spiritual disciplines.
Things of this world are viewed with a different perspective, and this profoundly changes the way that we think and act. Here, Paul deals with the very practical matter of how men and women who have been reconciled with God should live.
It is as our spiritual eyes are opened that we gain ever more understanding of God's eternal purposes and through faith we truly begin to experience triumph over darkness and despair.
Through the eyes of faith we have a greater understanding of God's redemptive plan for the world as we find it in the gospel message: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son” (John 3:16-18).
Encounter the Risen Christ
Sadly, in this world we do experience times of sorrow, loss of faith and despair. That, however, should not be the Christian norm! Sometimes we, like Mary, can look in the wrong place: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5).
Do we, at times, seek the Lord in places where he is not? We have all known what it is like to be burdened, weighed down with worry and care, not always realizing that Jesus is actually with us!
We are, or should be, people with a resurrection gospel to proclaim. We are, ourselves, resurrection people; people who have experienced life-giving transformation in a personal encounter with the risen Christ. People experiencing the power and presence of the risen Christ in our lives! We are on the winning team. Do you believe it?
We are destined to be people of victory, not despair. Christ's death on the cross and his Resurrection on that first Easter morning broke, once and for all, the power and domination of sin. Christ's Resurrection broke the chains of death and darkness. That remains true today, no matter what we may see and experience in this world.
We are called to experience for ourselves the power and victory of the Resurrection in our everyday lives. Let us lift up our heads and live as people who daily experience the victory that was won for us at Calvary!
General André Cox is the international leader of The Salvation Army.