ENCOUNTERING THE RISEN CHRIST

            FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

 

OUR THEME FOR 2011

(Part 32)

 

ENCOUNTERING THE RISEN CHRIST

Easter Sunday

April 24, 2011

Today’s readings

Acts 10:34-43

Psalm 118:1-23

Colossians 3:1-4

John 20:1-9

The Lord is risen! Today is Easter Sunday, and we celebrate that most momentous event in the life of our faith, that of the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is a momentous event not only for all Christians, but especially for us CFC-FFL. We are a people called to holiness of life and to the work of proclaiming the good news of salvation in Jesus. But without Easter we would have no basis for who we are called to be and what we are called to do. The truth is that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor 15:17). “And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching” (1 Cor 15:14a).

But the Lord indeed is risen! Jesus has risen from the dead! By going to the cross, shedding his blood and giving his life, and now rising from the dead, Jesus has won for us our salvation. He has defeated death, sin, darkness and Satan. He is our glorious Savior.

As CFC-FFL, we have encountered the risen Christ in our lives. This is why we live and serve as we do. Called to holiness and called to evangelize, these are not easy to do. We need a power beyond ourselves. That is precisely what Easter is all about. It manifests supernatural power by which Jesus rose from the dead. It is the supernatural power by which we are able to live for Christ.

Now, on our 30th year, looking to our theme “My God is now my strength!,” we look to Easter. “The Lord, my strength and might, came to me as savior.” (Ps 118:14).

We have experienced and learned a lot in 30 years. But an encounter with the living Jesus is the key to his strength in our lives.

Consider the apostles. They learned and experienced a lot as they were with Jesus every day for about three years. They heard his teaching, and away from the crowds they were able to ask him what he meant (Mt 13:36,17:10,24:3). They were sent out on practicum, and they were able to drive out demons and cure the sick (Mk 6:13). They were awe-struck by his mighty deeds (Mk 4:41). Peter, James and John witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus (Mk 9:2).

But still they failed in many things. They misunderstood what he said (Mt 16:7). They jostled for positions of honor (Mt 20:20-21). They prevented people from bringing their children to Jesus (Mk 10:13). They wanted to prevent an exorcist who was not with their group (Mk 9:38). They wanted to use their power to devastate their enemies (Lk 9:54). Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, and the rest of them abandoned him. After the crucifixion, now totally discouraged, some of them went back to fishing (Jn 21:2-3). With the resurrection, Peter and John still did not understand (Jn 20:9).

But what happened when they encountered the risen Jesus (and were empowered by the Holy Spirit)? Peter was emboldened and became effective in preaching (Acts 2:14,41). They lived community (Acts 2:42-47a). They evangelized rapidly and massively (Acts 2:47b,4:4,5:14,16:5). They could not be prevented from proclaiming the good news (Acts 4:20). They were persecuted but continued with the preaching of the word (Acts 8:1-4). Almost all of them became martyrs for their faith.

In CFC-FFL, we hear the teachings of Jesus, we live the community life as his people, we have experienced rapid and massive evangelization, we have served in many ways, we have been given victory over the forces of the enemy. We have experienced what the apostles experienced when Jesus was with them. But for the apostles, the real turn-around, the profound transformation, the opening of eyes and minds and hearts, only came about when they met the risen Jesus face to face.

This too is what we need. We need a personal encounter with the risen Lord, and enter deeply into a personal relationship with Jesus as Savior and Lord. What is the gauge that such has happened? It is when we are ready to give our all, to be totally faithful to our covenant with him, to serve him without counting the cost, to be willing to give our lives for the cause. It is when we begin to realize that the resurrection of Jesus is about our rising to new life as well, and we begin to truly focus our whole lives on Jesus.“If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:1-3).

Further, we have our particular mission, and that is evangelization. Easter and our designated task are intimately related. “This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, …. He commissioned us to preach to the people” (Acts 10:40-42a).

In the spiritual war that we engage in as we evangelize, we are assured that we serve the victorious Jesus, who has already conquered the enemy. We go forth in the power and strength of Jesus’ Spirit. “The joyful shout of deliverance is heard in the tents of the victors: ‘The Lord’s right hand strikes with power; the Lord’s right hand is raised; the Lord’s right hand strikes with power.’ I shall not die but live and declare the deeds of the Lord.” (Ps 118:15-17).

Let us go forth in the power of the resurrection, with Christ the Lord as our strength.

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