I am grateful to be alive!
To wake up each morning to the possibility of a new day and to engage it with a sense of hopefulness is one of life’s simple delights—along with Toblerone chocolate. However, I am infinitely more grateful to wake up each morning and experience this truth: that “… God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions ...” (Ephesians 2:4b-5a).
I am grateful to be alive with Christ!
This is the season of Easter. The songs we sing and the sermons we hear all remind us of Jesus’ resurrection, the foundational truth not only of Easter but also of Christianity itself. Paul put it in plain terms in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” So, once again this Easter, Christians will joyfully declare: “He is risen!”
This is an important declaration because the message of the resurrection is not only that God raised Jesus from death to life, but that He also raises us. We are raised from the death of our transgressions into new life with Christ. As one pastor said, Jesus did not die and rise again to make sad people happy, or bad people good, but to bring dead people back to life. The greatest affirmation of Easter is not in the songs I sing or in the sermons I deliver, but in the life I live—to simply be alive with Christ.
Being alive with Christ is a term we often hear at the funeral of a believer. We do believe, as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 5:8, that “to be away from the body [death]” is to be “at home [present] with the Lord.” However, we also believe that being alive with the Lord has everything to do with our lives right now.
Being alive with Christ is a game changer. It means we are alive with Him in His righteousness, His purpose, and even in His suffering. But this truth is also a life changer. Being alive with Christ means being with Him in His identity. As Christians, we seek to imitate the nature and character of Christ. We can only do this by first taking on His identity. As C. S. Lewis stated, “Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”
“The greatest affirmation of Easter is not in the songs I sing or in the sermons I deliver, but in the life I live—to simply be alive with Christ.”
We are human beings occupying physical bodies, but we are also infinitely more than that. Being with Christ means that we have been restored to our place as image bearers of God Himself. This truth deeply affects how we perceive and identify ourselves. Our identity is inseparably linked to who He is, to His identity. While we are all part of human families, and by extension human cultures, being with Christ means that we identify first as members of God’s family, with Christ as our elder brother. To base our identity on any other factor, such as culture, race, profession, economics or politics, is to set ourselves up for a crisis. Being alive with Christ is the antidote to any identity crisis.
One last thought on identity. It is becoming very common in some parts of our world for individuals to self-identify on the basis of their perceived sexuality. Last June, a New York City Commission on Human Rights listed 31 different gender identities in a publication on discrimination. This number is likely to increase as people continue to self-define their gender.
As followers of Jesus, we recognize and appreciate the gift of sexuality. We are aware that we are sexual beings. But we also recognize that we are so much more than that. When we are alive with Christ, our core identity is not established by our inner impulses or by cultural categories. It is established when we embrace the profound message of Easter and when we allow the Spirit to empower us to live out our real identity.
So let’s agree with Paul and say, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Happy Easter! Yes, He is risen—and we are alive with Him!
2. Gender Identity Expression, NYC Commission on Human Rights, https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/cchr/downloads/pdf/publications/GenderID_Card2015.pdf.
This article was written by David Hazzard, the general secretary treasurer of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. This article appeared in the March/April 2017 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. ©2017 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Visit www.testimonymag.ca.