GOD'S IMMEASURABLE AND MIRACULOUS RESURRECTION POWER. Do We Have a Part to Play?
I consider myself a lifelong learner. As an educator, I’m sure you do, too. I have purposefully taken some additional time this past week to reflect on the meaning of Easter. Having grown up in the church, Easter holds many fond memories for me—a new dress, new shoes, family gatherings, Easter egg hunts, yummy food, special church services singing songs like Up from the Grave He Arose, and, of course, the celebration of a resurrected Christ. These are all sweet memories for which I am very thankful.
As the years go by and as I walk and talk with Jesus, God continues to reveal more and more about what Easter means in my life. I have been moved beyond what I already know to be true (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) and taken to deeper levels of understanding. One concept for which I have gained a new appreciation is resurrection power. It’s a term from Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:19-20 that we often hear quoted during Easter services. Paul prayed that believers would understand the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe. He then described that power as the same power God exercised in Christ by raising Him from the dead. In other words, God can use some big-time power in my life (and yours) if He so chooses!
I know God’s resurrection power doesn’t have to be a theological concept but something we can experience. I know God’s resurrection power can be our daily source of strength, comfort, and hope. I know God’s resurrection power can enable us to accomplish more than our minds can possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20). I don’t question God’s Word, and I firmly believe every statement I just typed. Yet, I can’t seem to shake a nagging question. Why aren’t more believers (including me) experiencing this kind of unlimited power?
The Bible is full of promises about God’s power available to us. Here are just a few.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3
Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God! Psalm 68:35
If I were to list all of the verses in the Bible about God’s power, you would quit reading. It would take pages and pages to record them all, which makes that nagging question ring even louder in my head. Why aren’t more believers experiencing God’s resurrection power?
I’m not sure there is one right answer to this question. Every believer’s love relationship with God is personal. No two are alike. The power God wants to display in your life will be unique to you and your calling. However, one truth I do know is that God desires to express His power through our lives. All believers (Romans 10:9, John 14:6, Ephesians 2:8) who are not experiencing God’s resurrection power must wrestle with this question for themselves. This is what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ. I have found the more committed I am in my walk with Jesus, the more likely He is to answer my questions. His answers may not always be what I want to hear, but He will answer.
I mentioned earlier how Easter is taking on new meaning for me as I continue to mature in my faith. I know resurrection power is possible because Easter is real for me. I experience Jesus’ presence in my life every day through the Holy Spirit. This alone is evidence of resurrection power, but I still can’t help but wonder. Am I experiencing the same immeasurable power that raised Jesus from the dead? Do I have a role to play in this whole power experience with God?
God answered my questions and, as usual, He took me back to Jesus. I felt burdened to stop and reflect deeply about the few weeks leading up to the crucifixion. I wanted to know more about what Jesus had to do to experience God’s power through His literal resurrection. If I am going to be like Jesus and experience God’s resurrection power, I need to know what to do! I realize this is the task-driven aspect of my personality, but I sincerely don’t want to miss out on God’s resurrection power. Do you?
In my quiet time I found myself grappling with a couple of contrasting realities. First, God had a plan to redeem mankind, and Jesus was aware of that plan from the beginning (John 11:25). The details of God’s plan for me are often elusive, but that was not the case for Jesus. Second, Jesus was fully God and fully man (John 1:14). He is deity, and I am not. These truths kept my mind spinning until two words emerged as if they were coming straight from Jesus himself: surrender and sacrifice.
I didn’t hear an audible voice, but I felt God speaking to my heart. “Jackie, if you want to experience My resurrection power, you have to be willing to surrender and sacrifice.” Deep breath. I didn’t quite know how to respond. I wrote those two words down in my journal and set them aside, trying not to be fearful. That was two weeks ago.
I have done a great deal of reflection since I told God I wanted some of His resurrection power in my life. Surrender and sacrifice – not actions we talk about often. My human nature wants to be in control, and sacrifice implies discomfort, which I don’t particularly like. However, I’m beginning to understand that resurrection power cannot be obtained without my cooperation. Resurrection power was available to Jesus because He surrendered His will (Matthew 26:29-34) and sacrificed His life for you and me (Luke 22:44-46). His cooperation was necessary.
The same is true for us. If we want to experience resurrection power in our own lives, we must be willing to cooperate with God. Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” (Luke 9:23-25)
Surrender and sacrifice are part of what it means to be a follower of Christ, and this should begin the moment we ask Jesus into our hearts. Saying the sinner’s prayer (e.g., “Yes, Lord, I am a sinner. I surrender my life to you. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”) is not the end but the beginning! It is the beginning of resurrection power! Daily surrender and daily sacrifice to God’s will open the door to lives filled with resurrection power! Just ask Jesus!
I want this Easter to be a time of renewal, a time to experience a more vibrant and powerful life in Christ. God has done His part by sending Jesus. Now it’s time for me to do my part. I know there are areas of my life I need to surrender to His Lordship. I know there are sacrifices I need to make. I wonder if the same is true for you. God is waiting to demonstrate His power through our lives, and I know whatever He asks us to surrender or sacrifice will be overshadowed by His goodness and eternal rewards. It will be worth it. Bring on His resurrection power!
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead,
he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.