“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” - 1 Corinthians 15:56–58.
“Those prepared to give their lives in freedom’s cause, come over to me.”
As a native San Antonian, I have always been enthralled with the legend of the line in the sand, said to have happened in the middle of the siege of the Alamo. William B. Travis, the commander of Texian forces, purportedly drew a line in the dust with his saber, and invited all men who were willing to pay the ultimate cost to cross over the line and stand with him. As the story goes, only one man chose not to cross over the line. The story makes my heart beat fast with pride and encourages the noble virtues of courage and sacrifice in my spirit.
We, the Church, are in the midst of celebrating our own version of the line-in-the-sand moment: Easter. Early on that first morning of the week, the course of history was forever altered when the grave clothes were discarded and the stone was permanently rolled away. Easter is not just a moment in ancient history that we commemorate, however. Easter is the beginning of a new kind of life in the world: a life that is free from fear, sin, and Death. Easter is the unleashing of God’s plan and power to make all things new, beginning with the transformed (yet still crucified) body of Jesus Christ.
Regrettably, the Church is guilty of not giving Easter its proper recognition, choosing instead to downplay its significance out of apathy, embarrassment, and lack of faith. We have tried to tame the Kingdom of Heaven by relegating its reign to the hereafter. We have attempted to love Jesus at arm’s length by demoting him to “Secretary of Afterlife Affairs” rather than recognizing his rightful position as King of kingdoms and Lord of all creation. We have watered down the essence of Easter to bunnies, seersucker bowties and white pants, and baskets full of candy.
This Easter season, we are trying to do something different. We have begun a sermon series at University called “In San Antonio as it is in Heaven,” where we will take seriously the petition in the Lord’s prayer to live as disciples who embrace and extend God’s reign right here, right now. Each week, we are going to be commissioned with several ways we can partner with God to solidify and strengthen God’s Kingdom in our relationships, our neighborhoods, our city, and our world. The hope is that, in this season of celebrating Easter, we might begin to understand discipleship as a way of living all our days rather than for an hour on Sunday morning.
In the world-changing event of Easter, Jesus puts us to the question and draws a figurative line in the sand between our ways of living and the Kingdom way of living. To cross over the line, we must have the courage to leave everything behind for Jesus’s sake. To stand beside Christ our King, we must be willing to renounce loyalties to our other kingdoms and their demands upon us. To be enlisted in the ranks of the Kingdom of Heaven, we must not settle for how things are in our world, instead praying and working for how God says they ought to be.
Are you prepared to give your life for Christ and his Kingdom, even if it means losing your own way of living? If you hesitate, then take heart: those who lose their lives for his sake will discover a life that is transformed, abundant, and untouched by Death.