“What must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30
As we move beyond the reality of the empty tomb, the challenge for most of us can be summed up in the collective question, “Now what?” For many, the high anxiety and impact of Lent and Holy Week inevitably give way to the return to “normal life.” Recently I overheard one individual on his cell who had reluctantly taken off the Holy Week, aka “spring break.” He complained that by taking off the week, he was basically appeasing his wife and family. Yet at the forefront of his thoughts, were his workload and the responsibilities he would face when he returned to work. Some of us can identify with this man. Despite that reality we do have a choice, we can choose the direction that we want to go and how we live out the reality of the empty tomb.
In Acts, Paul and Silas are imprisoned in Philippi. After a miraculous earthquake, they are freed. In the aftermath of the quake, realizing that his prisoners are gone, the jailer prepares to do what is expected in the Roman Army’s protocol for dereliction of duty—his death. Shouting out to the jailer, Paul lets him know that they are still present in the dark cave. Familiar with the message of Paul and astonished at his refusal to flee, the transformed jailer asks, “What must I do to be saved?” “Believe in Lord Jesus and you will be saved,” came the reply. The jailer then frees both of the Apostles after cleaning the wounds they received from being whipped.
Recently I was reading a poem from T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Man,” the final line concludes with a very depressing end of all things: “So that’s the way the world ends...Not with a bang but with a whimper.” In Eliot’s poem there is no apocalyptic doom or cataclysm. Instead the world ends with men and women cowering, whimpering, crying, beaten down, submissive, defeated, and surrendered. Is that where we are today? That is not the meaning and the lesson from the empty tomb; that is not what we believe. Clearly we need to step it up and step out in faith.
Back in the 1970’s, in an era of world challenges and a national malaise, my boyhood pastor noted that “...we shall not save the world nor souls; nor even human life simply by rearranging the furniture of society’s existence. Rather, we must come to Jesus Christ ourselves and let ourselves be redeemed.” What did he mean to be redeemed? He is suggesting that we open ourselves so that Jesus Christ can redeem all of us in all areas of our lives. There are always aspects of our lives that we are called to surrender, prune, improve, and change. In theological terms it is called sanctification. It implies opening all aspects of ones life to the infinite possibilities we have in Christ.
But the personal aspects are just the beginning. As we face the empty tomb, Christ is calling us back to offer hope, direction and guidance by His Word through His church to the world. Are we up for the task or are we stuck in the malaise Eliot speaks of? Think not only of the here and now, but of future generations. Are we meeting the challenge of Christ, or are we doing “whatever?” This challenge goes beyond you and me. Make no mistake about it, scripture teaches us that society will transform by and as the Body of Christ.
The challenge is to find the same faith that the disciples had as they faced the empty tomb and wondered, “Now What?” The results speak for themselves. The message of salvation has transformed the world one person at a time. Are you ready to be redeemed and renewed? The answer depends on you alone. Open yourselves up with worship, prayer, and fellowship. Let this be the time of renewal and transformation.
Yours in Christ,