Daily Devotion - Monday, April 4, 2016
I was reading the other day about the old time evangelist Billy Sunday, who used to criss-cross America about a hundred years ago with his traveling revival. Sunday would put on quite a show every night--with music, some entertainment and of course a fiery and passionate sermon followed by an "altar call."
Billy Sunday was a master at getting people to "hit the sawdust trail," to walk down the aisle at his revivals (an aisle layered with sawdust), hit their knees at the altar, repent of their sins and pray a prayer to become a Christian.
Sunday used to say the ideal Christian life would be to: "Hit the sawdust trail, fall on your knees, and receive Christ as your Savior. Then walk out of the tent into the street, get hit by a Mack truck and go straight to heaven."
Sunday's formula is an extreme case of the quintessential American approach to Christian discipleship: Get it right, get it done quickly, move on to the next thing. We're great at beginning things, setting awesome goals, casting vision, but when it comes to the in-between times, the long, slow slough of living our goals and vision every single day... most of us struggle with this.
I have so many conversations with people who recall with joy the early days of their journey as a Christian. They'll talk about how much easier it was to believe in those early days, to have strong faith and to trust God. For some, the hardships of life chipped away at their faith, and eventually left them with something worn, battered and misshapen.
The majority of those I talk to however, suffer from something altogether different: boredom. They allowed themselves to get stuck in a rut. Worship is a routine for them, one they barely endure. Where they used to find great joy and meaning in prayer, and Bible study, now they seldom feel compelled to do either.
I think what is missing from lives of far too many Christians is a sense of wonder, awe and astonishment at the reality and power of the Resurrection. I believe we fail to fully grasp what the Resurrection really means for us: eternal life that begins now and never ends.
The Apostle Paul wrote about this very struggle in his first letter to the church at Corinth. He wrote:
17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:17-19)
Paul goes on to point out that because of the hope that is embodied in the Resurrection, followers of Jesus can confidently begin now to live forever. They can experience the joy of eternal, meaningful, passionate and abundant life now, and the hope of eternal, abundant, joyful life after this life.
In other words, we can look forward to life after life after death. The joy that this hope brings should transform our "in-between" days into an endless array of new beginnings.
Starting today, live every day as a new beginning, a new chance to live eternally and embrace the hope of the Resurrection. Live in joy, knowing that because Jesus is risen, death and sin have no hold over you, if you follow him. And live knowing that the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with you now and always. Amen.