Today is Good Friday. This is the day we remember Jesus’ death. In a couple of days we’ll be celebrating His resurrection.
Jesus’ death and resurrection are at the center of Christian thought and practice and, for each Christian, these realities should drive our individual daily lives. But the cross and resurrection are not just the center for individuals, but ought to be the center for churches as well.
I am perhaps especially mindful of this since I serve as a pastor. I was encouraged earlier this week to prepare a 5-10 minute “welcome message” to be presented before the sermon which would draw out some of the key implications of the resurrection and I thought one way to approach would be to draw out some implications for our church. With that in mind I sat down to answer this question: How do the cross and the resurrection drive the core values we hold as a church? Our core values are: Biblical Truth, Loving Relationships, Gospel Mission, and Trusting God.
It’s through the Bible in the first place that we know the details of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s in Scripture that we find the words of life and the way of salvation which continually drives back to the cross and to the resurrection. But Jesus’ resurrection also points Scripture. Since Jesus rose from the dead in time and space He is trustworthy in all He says. Since He has a high view of Scripture, so do we.
Jesus commanded his disciples “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). He spoke this command shortly before going to the cross, the most powerful presentation of His love and this is the kind of love we are called to live out in church life. It’s this kind of love which draws us to “not only look to [our] own interests, but also to the interest of others” (Philippians 2:4).
The resurrection gives us one more reason to sacrifice for others in love. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then we should live for ourselves – eat, drink, and be merry. But if this life isn’t all there is then it’s OK for us to give up the temporary for the eternal.
After Jesus rose from the dead He gave His followers this mission: Go and make disciples. This is our mission, too. The news of the resurrection is too good to keep quiet about – it’s the power of God for salvation. It compels us to action. And, we go out on this mission knowing that we go with the power and presence of our resurrected Savior.
As a church, while we hope for “success” we know that our main objective is obedience to what God has called us to do. It’s fine for us to focus on our obedience because we trust God with the results. We seek first the Kingdom because it’s God that supplies all of our needs. How do we know we can trust God? We can trust God because He kept His promise to win us salvation. Jesus took our sins upon Himself and endured Hell on our behalf. Then He rose from the dead. He proved His faithfulness by following through on His promise and proving His power through the resurrection. He is a trustworthy God. He will accomplish all things according to His purpose. We just get to come along for the ride.