By Jeffrey A. Ziegler, President: SGI
Throughout the realm of Western empires, and in the huts and villages of remote peoples groups throughout the world, the resurrection of Jesus Christ will soon be hailed in festive Easter renewal, as it has been done for the last 2000 years. Yet, the true impact and comprehensiveness of this signal event, is little appreciated by those who should hold it in highest esteem, chiefly The Church of the living God.
Oh to be sure, this Easter, as in all before it, will feature the proper victorious liturgies, hymns, and homilies. These will all be trumpeted with proper fanfare. The message of forgiveness of sins in Christ, redemptive renewal, and of new beginnings will be heralded with vigor. Yet, few will hear, and fewer will live, the greatness of Christ’s resurrection and its call upon our lives. For few understand that Christ not only died to redeem individuals from their sins, but also lives today, in an enthroned state, waiting for his adversaries to be made His footstool. And fewer still will apprehend that the end goal of His enthronement and our redemption is the transformation of the world, every part of it, into a place of worship for Christ.
Ephesians 1:22- 23, Matthew 28:18-20
Christ, who upholds all things by the word of his power, and the One by whom all things exist, demands by his very resurrection nature, the conformity of culture to His revealed will as contained in the Scriptures. Herein is the anthem depicted in both the narratives found in St. Paul’s Epistle to Ephesus and St. Matthew’s gospel epilogue commonly referred to as the “Great Commission.”
To fully comprehend the reach of Christ’s resurrection claims, it is useful to first define the notion of culture or cultus. Culture is defined as the sum result derived from the composition of action or expressions of adoration and worship. It is, by definition, an inherently religious term. Hence, all societal interactions, relationships, disciplines, structures, designs and so on, do in fact, reflect a locus of worship. Even if a totally secular, statist, man-centric motif is existent, the resultant culture will reflect that same absence of God. So the idea of culture as an expression of worship is an inescapable reality. In fact, it’s never a question of god or no god, just a question of whose god has the cultural dominance. As a whole then, the biblical ideal heralds the conversion and transformation of culture according to the claims of Christ and His imperial resurrection order.
This optimistic view for the Christian, places its confidence in the superiority of the Gospel of a resurrected Christ and not the progress of man. Of course, there remains a recognition of the perversion of culture in all of its facets by the depravity of unregenerate man. Hence, in developing a Kingdom Culture, there is never an accommodation of evil in the world, but instead a supreme confidence in the power of God to reorder it.
DUALISM – CONFUSING JURISDICTION
The Easter message when properly apprehended sees Christ portrayed as the “transformer of culture” and therefore all dualistic thought must be abandoned! By dualism I mean the erroneous view that depicts the unseen world as inherently spiritual and the visible world as somehow evil. In other words the earth, the body, and material possessions are not evil in and of themselves. Therefore, we must expand our vision to see that Christ himself was incarnate into the physical world and was raised bodily, ergo extending his resurrection domain and jurisdiction into the physical world and never to be confined exclusively to the ethereal unseen!
So the material world is not creature and property of hellish design. Thus while one must acknowledge that sin and evil perverts the material world, one must equally understand that the Resurrected Christ and His Kingdom conquers and restores the same fallen world. Therefore sin and evil is not the focal point and ground of theology, rather the true, holy, and living God is the ground upon which we stand. Consequently, evil, sin and perversion do not in any way define the biblical end of theology. Satan is not in any sense king of the universe, neither in its material nor in it’s spiritual aspect.
FEAR- DENIAL OF EASTER MESSAGE
Practically, Christians must abandon the fear of evil in the world in favor of the power and supremacy of the righteousness, and efficacious grace that is found in Christ. A Christocentric life is one that is filled with confidence in the future, and given to advancing the Kingdom with boldness in high and low places.
Fear of evil and even fear itself is the great weapon of Hell against the people of God. What Christ ordained as “The mighty “sons of thunder” become the whimpering hoards of irrelevancy, as the saints separate themselves from culture, fearful of its sinful attractions. The separatist cedes the ground to the very thing he fears, chiefly, evil. No such idea can be legitimately followed in light of the true message of a transformational Easter.
Emphatically Christ is not against culture! Christ instead seeks to subjugate and reconstruct it through His reconciliatory work upon the cross. Christians then are not to grovel in dualistic, fatalistic bunkers of fear. Rather Christians, The Church, and with it the Kingdom of God are to advance, and press the claims of Christ, converting the culture to the worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. While the Kingdom of God begins inwardly through regeneration, it advances and is manifest without through our actions both individually and corporately. Finally, the Kingdom is to penetrate and predominate over the whole of our social existence
Given the greatness, expansiveness, and glory of the resurrected Christ, together with all its ramifications for the elect, we dare not hang our heads low in despair or despondency. Fear has no place in our vocabulary! All the vanities we are tempted with are eclipsed in the glory of His ascendancy! No obstacle, no challenge, no stronghold, indeed not even death itself, can invalidate the power of Christ demonstrated in His elect. When we act autonomously apart from this knowledge, we fall prey to the tempters snare of defeat and death! This Easter is the time to know Christ as He is and conform our actions to the fact of the resurrection!
GETTING IT RIGHT!
When we pray “thy kingdom come …” we are praying for the conversion of all aspects of man’s existence to express the Glory of God. This worldview is supported by a conscience of righteousness in Christ, which basks in the knowledge that the saints have a forensic (judicial) “right standing” with God through Christ’s finished work. This “right standing” leads to “right doing” and consequently, it is to be with unbounded confidence, hope, and faith that we are to conquer our fainthearted imperceptive vision. Such trepidation tramples the promise of the covenant ratified in His blood. We cannot allow such fears to rule the day lest we impugn all that Christ has secured on our behalf to make the world righteous in Him.
It is an oddity of history that the Church has little understood the greatness of Christ’s resurrection claims, let alone acted upon them. Yet, dictators, kings, and despotic personalities have throughout time understood very well the social, political and cultural ramifications of THE KING OF KINGS. Their combined persecutions of the Church has sought to silence the embassy of God. Yet, in modern America, no such persecution is needed for the Church, for she has by her own ignorance and indolence, effectively placed a “reed” in the hand of Jesus, practically mocking his rightful kingship. Matthew 27:29,30.
This Easter may God grant us “eyes to see” Christ as He is! He’s not a babe in a manger, nor is He a beaten visage on deaths tree, the cross. He is the resurrected Lord of Glory above princes, presidents, and all earthly pretenses of power. HE IS RISEN INDEED! ACT LIKE IT!
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