The Risen Christ
The vast majority of the people around the world are looking to politics, science and education for the solution to life¡¦s problems, and not to Jesus Christ. Why is this? What is happening?
I believe part of our dilemma is that we have preached a weak, watered-down Christ. We have preached a watered-down Gospel. We have caused young people to doubt the authority of the Scriptures. We have given people a god of our own imagination. Christ has been robbed of His deity. The supernatural has been eliminated from our faith. We try to rationalize away the full deity of Christ, which includes His resurrection from the dead.
It was the resurrection of Christ that caused the disciples to go out as burning young revolutionaries to change the world of their day. They preached that Christ was alive. This should be our message, not only at Easter but every day of the year. The risen Christ wants to come into our hearts today.
But beware¡XHe is a disturber! He did not come to bring peace; He came to bring a sword (Matthew 10:34). He came to divide even families. People reject that kind of Christ because it costs too much to follow Him in this materialistic, secular, pleasure-mad age.
We Christians must share the guilt. We have limited Christ to the sanctuary, to the temple, to the religious area of our lives. We worship Him behind thick church walls. We tuck Him away in quiet little recesses. From Sunday to Sunday, He is rarely mentioned. We spend little time reading His Word or praying. We Christians act and live as though Christ were dead.
This kind of Christ will never make an impact on the world. This is not the Christ of the Bible. He is too weak and small; he is irrelevant. The weak, emaciated, impotent Christ of the church of today bears little resemblance to the Christ that Isaiah the prophet talked about. He bears little resemblance to the Christ who is found in the early church, who dared to challenge the world and turn it upside down.
When Christ was on earth, He would go to the temple, but He did not stay there. He went into the streets where the sick, the needy and the dying were. His love and compassion broke the bounds of class, race and creed: ¡§The common people heard him gladly¡¨ (Mark 12:37).
I was invited to have coffee one morning with Konrad Adenauer before he retired as the chancellor of Germany. When I walked in, I expected to meet a tall, stiff, formal man who might even be embarrassed if I brought up the subject of religion. After the greeting, the chancellor suddenly turned to me and said, ¡§Mr. Graham, what is the most important thing in the world?¡¨
Before I could answer, he answered his own question. He said, ¡§The resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ is alive, then there is hope for the world. If Jesus Christ is in the grave, then I don¡¦t see the slightest glimmer of hope on the horizon.¡¨
Then he amazed me by saying that he believed that the resurrection of Christ was one of the best-attested facts of history. He said, ¡§When I leave office I intend to spend the rest of my life gathering scientific proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.¡¨
Yes, Jesus Christ is alive. This risen Christ, taken by faith in all of His power and glory, is great enough and big enough to cope with every problem the human race faces at this hour.
First, a risen Christ is big enough to cope with the tyranny of man over man. Not only can He save the individual, but His power also has worldwide implications. Isaiah 9:6 says, ¡§The government will be upon His shoulder.¡¨ He has not abdicated His sovereignty in the affairs of men. He is still the Lord of history.
When He was crucified, the Bible says, ¡§an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin and Hebrew: ¡¥THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS¡¦ (Luke 23:38). He was then, and still is, King; only we have changed. One of our failures is not seeing Christ as King of the physical and material as well as the spiritual, of the mind as well as the soul, of the government as well as the heart.
In this country we are engaged in a debate on the separation of church and state. But there is a sense in which Christ cannot be separated from anything that pertains to life, for He ¡§is all and in all¡¨ (Colossians 3:11). He said, ¡§Ye call me Teacher and Lord, and ¡K so I am¡¨ (John 13:13). He is the Master of every phase of our lives.
He is Master of our business on Monday and Tuesday as well as our religious life on Sunday. Secularism is growing because we have tried to get Him to abdicate from the realms of economics, politics and science. We think that the world¡¦s problems could be solved by diplomacy, by scientific advancement, by economic progress. We have lost the New Testament concept that envisioned a cosmic Christ who was woven into the warp and woof of the universe and who could not be taken out without destroying the fabric of the whole world.
Nazism blossomed in Germany only after the church had failed to fill the vacuum following World War I. When the church failed to present and declare a dynamic, living Christ, Germany was robbed of a Savior and gave birth to a dictator. When people reject Christ¡¦s rightful place as Lord in any nation, tyranny takes over.
In the United States our Declaration of Independence speaks of ¡§life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,¡¨ but it is the pursuit of happiness that is guaranteed and not happiness itself. Chasing happiness may be fun for a while, but the entertainment of it soon wears thin.
There is a better way. Paul says, ¡§The kingdom of Heaven is not a matter of whether you get what you like to eat and drink, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit¡¨ (Romans 14:17, Phillips). Christian joy is dependent on a personal relationship with God, not on externals.
In the upper room Jesus told His disciples, ¡§These things I have spoken to you ¡K that your joy may be full¡¨ (John 15:11). He further told them that His joy is one that cannot be taken away (John 16:22). No pagan philosophy, no atheistic ideology, no deep sorrow can dislodge the joy that Christ gives.
Second, the resurrected Christ is also big enough to cope with the gigantic social problems of these times. The race problem is not limited to any one city, nor to any one part of the United States. The race problem is a worldwide problem. Wherever two races or two nationalities or even two religious groups live together, there is friction and misunderstanding.
It is into this kind of situation that Christ can come with the healing ¡§balm of Gilead.¡¨
We must recognize the relationship between Christianity and healthy social conditions. One of the greatest and most far-reaching social revolutions of history was directly related to and grew out of the great evangelical revivals of the 18th century under John Wesley and George Whitefield.
I believe that a great spiritual revival today would have social consequences throughout the world. Christ has an answer to the social problems. He can meet them in His resurrection power and glory.
But let us not forget that man does not in himself have the capacity to love his neighbor. He does not have the capacity to live according to Christian ethics until he has come to Jesus Christ. When you repent of your sins and receive Christ as Saviour. He enlarges your capacity and gives you new ability to love your neighbor. When you come to know Him, He gives you new powers, new directions, new strengths, new visions, new dimensions of living.
Jesus once said, ¡§The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed¡¨ (Luke 4:18).
This is good news for the poor. This is good news for the suffering. This is good news for the blind. Christ can indeed cope with the social and political problems of the world.
The world today offers many saviours, but none of them saves to the uttermost. The world today offers many panaceas, but they cannot reach to the depths of our depravity. The world today offers many shortcuts to salvation, but to be truly saved we must be reconciled to God.
Give your life to Jesus Christ today. Receive Him as your Lord and Saviour. And whatever personal problems you may have, and whatever great problems may face the world, you can find help, and you can make your contribution to this generation by making your commitment and your decision for Jesus Christ. Let His joy, His peace, His love, dominate your life.