We have been through Holy Week, witnessing Jesus sharing the last supper with his disciples, humbly washing their feet, subtly being betrayed, helplessly hanging on the cross. We have waited through those long hours in anticipation of finding the tomb empty. And it was empty! Jesus was raised from the dead!
In the afterglow of Easter, though, the party might be over, but the work is not done.
Churches that follow lectionaries for their preaching often spend time in the season of Easter – the Great Fifty Days between the resurrection and Pentecost – studying the book of Acts. Theologian J.B. Phillips, when translating the New Testament for ease of reading in the 1960s, called it “The Young Church in Action”.
It’s an accurate title for the book of Acts, because that was the early church’s response to the resurrection of Jesus: action.
And it should be the response of the church of today, too.
If we remain content to give mere mental assent to the resurrection of Jesus, but then do nothing with it, our faith doesn’t mean much, does it? Just ‘pie in the sky when you die’.
But Jesus’ victory over death calls us to action, and specifically to grow the church.
Granted, that’s a tough task these days, with secularization on the rise, and sundry scandals among church leaders dotting the news. In the midst of all that, though, Jesus is alive, and he longs to build his church.
Despite society’s best efforts, the church of Jesus will never die. If you read statistics, you might not believe that, but maybe you’ll believe Jesus when he said to his disciples that on the bedrock of their faith, “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16.18b, NLT).
The church is, literally, unstoppable.
If you’re in leadership, you’re probably tired right now. (Join the club!)
If you’re not in leadership, pray for your leaders. They’ve been praying for you!
Pray that all of us, together, will be the church in action, responding to the grace of God at work in the resurrection of Jesus in this season of such growth potential.
The risen Lord Jesus has not given up on the church, so why should we?
Two thousand years on, we are still called to be the young church in action.