This morning, as we leave yesterday’s celebration of the resurrection, many Christians can be left with a sense of sadness. We greatly look forward to Easter each year, and when it has passed, believers can begin to internally ask, “Now what?” These feelings are heightened now more than ever, with so much uncertainty and fear over what tomorrow holds given our current state of pandemic. As we look in our rear view at yesterday’s celebration of Easter, and stare ahead at an unknown future, questions arise in our minds.
Jesus’ disciples were very familiar with our feelings. After the very first Easter when Christ had finally ascended to the right hand of His Father, the disciples felt much of what you may be feeling today. As they gazed in celebration at their Lord and Savior rising to His throne, they began to mentally look forward to an unknown future.
There was no doubt that persecution was coming to the church. And things were going to change. No more would they be able to publicly gather together as they once had done when Jesus was physically with them. They would now have to begin meeting in private. Due to this coming persecution, the followers of Christ were now living in a different world. Does this sound familiar to our circumstances?
As the disciples contemplated what their ‘new normal’ might be, they continued to look up into the sky that Jesus had just disappeared into. They were scared. They were uncertain. They were most likely asking, “Now what?” Then the Lord sent two messengers to set them back on course.
“And when he (Jesus) had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11.
These messengers reminded the confused disciples that they had been given a mission. They were not to just stand parayzed, gazing back at the joy of Easter. And they had been taught by Jesus to not let worry over the future lull them into complacency (Matthew 6:25-27). Basically, these two messengers told the disciples to stop staring at their circumstance. In light of Jesus’ victory over death, it was now time for the church to begin making disciples.
As we sit today remembering the joy of yesterday’s Easter morning, and we simultaneously contemplate an uncertain future, the message to us is the same. Stop staring at your circumstances and remember what Christ has commanded you to do. We have been given a Gospel to proclaim to the world. We remember and rejoice in the resurrection of Christ, but we carry that joy with us as we move. Just as the disciples faced an uncertain future through persecution, our uncertainty is rooted in a global pandemic. But we know through the scriptures that believers are not to let fear sway us from what we have been called to do.
As the messengers told the disciples, Jesus will come again in the same way He ascended over 2000 year ago. We are to let this reality embolden us as the church, regardless of what our new normal may look like. Due to Covid-19, the church cannot physically gather together as a body like we once did. But neither could the disciples after the stoning of Stephen. However, as God’s people, we don’t cave in fear to circumstances, we adapt to our mission in joy.
The reality of the resurrection motivated God’s people into action, regardless of their circumstances. We celebrate the resurrection of Christ not just on Easter morning, but always. It is our motivation in the Great Commission that we’ve have been given (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8).
Remember this week that you have been called to HIS mission of making disciples. Pick up the phone and call friends and family who may not know the Lord. Use social media to share Gospel centered videos and messages with your contacts. Begin writing that internet blog in attempts to share Christ. Start now reaching out to people in your sphere of relationships to invite them to join our LIVE streams and eventually, a local church body.
God used persecution to embolden His church after the resurrection, and the result was that they literally turned the world upside down with their passion for spreading the Gospel. I believe God is using our current pandemic in the same way. The church of Jesus Christ has historically always thrived under persecution. Don’t let our modern day “New Normal” draw you away from what Christ has called us to do. We are the church. Let’s turn the world upside down with the Gospel.
“And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,” Acts 17:6.