What a difference!

It all started when he got knocked off his high horse.

The experience was radical and he became a man possessed – not by hatred as he had been but by love. Not by a determination to obliterate a strange new faith but by a devoted commitment to spread it.

He was transformed on the dusty road to Damascus.

His fiery passions did a 360.

The Apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, was a man on a mission.

In his ardent pursuit to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the first-century world, he was prepared to meet any hardship, endure any trial and suffer any persecution.

And he did – plenty.

He told the Corinthians that he had “been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again” (II Corinthians 11:23, NLT).

Few in history have suffered more for the cause of Christ than the indomitable Paul. Few have given up more of this world’s glory and prestige.

It was from a prison in Rome that he wrote to the Philippians about his sterling Jewish pedigree. If anyone could boast about his background and achievements this “Hebrew of the Hebrews” could. Yet he explained to the Philippians that the goals, values and priorities of his life were radically different.

Everything now for this brilliant scholar was weighed on a different set of scales.

“I once thought these things were valuable,” Paul wrote, “but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7-8, NLT).

Paul looked to the future, saw his purpose clearly and never once took his eyes off Jesus.

He pressed on. He traveled light. He valued what mattered.

Nothing mattered as much to Paul as this:

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10, KJV).

“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection …”

Here was the secret of the great man’s life.

For Paul the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not just an annual event – a burst of colorful pageantry; an hour of familiar recitations and a prayer of thanks.

It was a daily presence and a daily power.

For Paul, the resurrection was a holistic worldview, it was a continuing perspective and it was an attitude.

It was the way to live as an optimist in a pessimistic world.

Nothing was more practical or more relevant than the resurrection. Paul faced every trial, every hardship, every suffering through the power of the resurrected Christ. This was his reliable source of joy and confidence.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was not just a future hope – it was a present reality. Paul defended the resurrection logically and with a persuasive eloquence, but he lived it practically.

At the end of the 15th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, after underscoring the central importance of the resurrection of Christ as the lynchpin of all our hopes – in this world and the next – arguing that our faith is utterly futile without it, Paul urges us onward in life:

“Remain steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” It is because Christ is risen – because he defeated death and the devil when the stone rolled away from the tomb – that our work for God is never in vain (I Corinthians 15:58).

Our faith is not in vain.

The members of the early church greeted one another with this salutation.

“Christ is Risen!”
“He is Risen Indeed!”

When terrorists strike into the very heart of Europe, killing 34 and injuring hundreds, and the world is gripped in fear, we must remember …

Christ is Risen!

Despite the present evils of injustice, racism, hatred and violence …

Christ is Risen!

In the hospital, the classroom, the factory, the unemployment office, the prison and the drug rehabilitation center …

Christ is Risen!

At the graveside …

Christ is Risen!

In the midst of your fear and uncertainty about the future, your guilt over the past and your discouragement of the present …

Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!

Don’t just celebrate the resurrection – embrace it. Live it.

Experience its power. Let its truth and beauty inform and infuse your life.

It’s our only hope.

Through all his hardships the apostle Paul remained triumphant and joyful. The hammer of his adversities would have broken many a man upon the anvil of despair. But Paul was convinced that he served a risen Savior.

It made all the difference in how he thought and how he acted.

What was true for Paul then – in that cruel first- century world – is just as true for you and me today.

We serve the risen Christ and in this earth-shattering reality alone we have hope, joy and final victory.

No matter our circumstance or the world condition. No matter the headlines yet to be written.

This is what it means to know him and the power of his resurrection.

Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!

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Filed under Christian World View, Faith, Religion

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