“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.'” (John 20:21 NIV)
The Easter season is once again surrounding us with the glory of Jesus’ resurrection and reminders of who we are as “Easter People.” John presents a tremendous challenge in his gospel when he tells us that Jesus sends his disciples “as the Father has sent.” We are sent by Jesus in the same way that God sent the Savior into the world…to be faithful witnesses in the face of rejection by the world. Wow! – That’s not easy for us to embrace, is it?
Throughout our “One Month to Live” challenge during Lent we have talked about what we might do if we knew we only had a month left to live. Our model for this discussion has been Jesus Christ who knew how his life on earth would end and demonstrated for us how we should live. Jesus showed us that living the life we are called to live involves living with passion, enthusiasm, and excitement for life and for God’s people. It means being willing to do whatever it takes to get people in front of the Risen Christ. It means not wasting our time on things that simply do not matter in the face of eternity. Jesus showed us that he loves us so completely that he willingly gave up his life for us. We must also love others so completely that we are able to get past our misunderstandings, overlook mistakes, and give up the idea that “me first” matters. Jesus taught us that we must learn from our failures, take responsibility for our actions, and surrender to God’s strength. He also told us to let go of our guilt and move past it to a closer relationship with God. Finally, Jesus challenged us to ground our convictions in God’s Word and allow God to shape our character into his image – imago Dei – the image of God. Only then will we be able to leave a Godly legacy behind when we exit this life. The whole point of this study has been to empower us to lead a life with no regrets; to lead a life that we can be proud of, not because of anything we have done, but because it is lived for God. Maybe that is the true challenge we face.
In the early church followers of Jesus were often persecuted and even put to death for their faith. People today may not kill us for witnessing about Christ, but they may let us know that they really don’t want to hear the truth. They may try to silence us. In fact, I’m sure you can recognize many contemporary examples of how this is happening right now in America and around the world; some people do not want to hear the truth and they want to stop us from telling it. We must not be silent. We must continue to live a life that honors God, not our culture. Though many people will turn against you and your message, some people will hear the truth and follow Christ because of you.
This Lenten journey has given us a deeper understanding of God’s call on our lives. We are challenged to live every single day as if it were our last; to always be ready to meet God face to face. It is easier for us to be this ready when we realize what Jesus is saying in this Scripture passage from John…“Peace be with you!” Before Jesus sends us out into the cold, cruel reality of the world he gives us his peace. Peace to comfort and strengthen us; peace to encourage and heal us. Then he reminds us that we are being sent in the same way that he was sent. In other words, Jesus knows exactly what we will face because he has already been there. There is no obstacle, no rejection, and no pain that Jesus hasn’t already experienced. Because of this Jesus is uniquely qualified to offer his peace to get us through whatever comes our way. This is an Easter message worth sharing with everyone you meet. Even if you are rejected or ignored, you are still called to tell the truth. Remember these words from Helen Keller: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.“
You may not be able to change the whole world but you are called by God to do that “something” that only you can do. So, in the words of a famous sporting goods manufacturer: “Just Do It!”