Alleluia! Christ is risen

Do you ever find yourself questioning whether your faith is true? And if so where do you turn to strengthen your faith?

I am most prone to doubt when I am tired or feeling under the weather. At times like that the number one thing that renews my faith is Christ’s resurrection. Taking that away is like removing a key block from a Tower of Jenga, everything else collapses around it. Paul writes: ‘And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.’ 1 Corinthians 15:14 (NIV 2011) As if that wasn’t strong enough Paul continues in the same chapter to say that if Christ has not been raised: 1) our message is a lie, 2) there is no resurrection for anyone else, 3) our faith is futile, 4) we are still in our sins, and 5) we of all people are the most to be pitied! Of course Paul is being rhetorical here, inviting us to have confidence in Christ’s resurrection, because he then goes in to state: ‘But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.’ 1 Corinthians 15:20 (NIV 2011)

Why was Paul so certain that Christ had been raised? Because he had evidence; evidence that we too can rely on to confirm that our faith is based upon facts. Just a few verses earlier Paul cites the eyewitness testimonies of Peter and the 12 apostles, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote and could have been questioned. He also cites a resurrection appearance to 500 others at the same time, again most of whom were still alive and could have been questioned.

Of course we could also look at the evidence of the empty tomb and the folded grave clothes; the response of the authorities who had every incentive to prove that Jesus had not risen; the eyewitness testimony of the women who arrived first at the tomb; the scepticism of Thomas; the willingness of the disciples to die for the truth of Christ’s resurrection.

A careful investigation of such details leads to the conclusion that the best explanation for that first Easter morning is that Christ is indeed risen! And if Christ is risen then we know that the message of the scriptures is true, that we too will be resurrected, that our faith is not futile, that we have been set free from our sins, and that we are the envy of the world.

This Easter, allow yourself to be captivated by the facts. Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again! Alleluia, Amen!

This blog post featured in the April 2015 edition of Lifelines

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Election Fever

The General Election is just around the corner, and in our daily news we read and hear the latest reports of politicians posturing for our vote. For those of us who have been raised in the UK our familiarity with the UK democratic system can mean that we take it for granted, and many even become bored with the whole business. However, in case you have missed it, Polling Day is Thursday 7th May.

One of my goals as a follower of Jesus is to bring him consistently into all aspects of my life, including the way I exercise my freedom to vote. The challenge however is how to respond to political parties whose agendas are informed by world views that don’t always align with biblical values.

21st Century believers are not the first to find themselves in this predicament. The first century followers of Jesus found themselves under Roman rule which frequently persecuted them. Despite the hostility which they were receiving Paul wrote urging that the church should pray for ‘kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’ 2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV 2011). Since Paul encouraged believers who were persecuted for their faith to pray for those who governed them, how much more ought we? A good response for believers is to pray about the outcome of this General Election; that the UK will continue to be a place where people of all faiths and none will be free to practice their beliefs in peace and quiet.

A friend of mine frequently reminds me that God invites us to be part of the answer to our prayers. One way to be part of the answer to our prayers is to engage with the political process and cast our vote in an informed and thoughtful way. Although the General Election is becoming increasingly presidential in style and the focus is often placed on who will become Prime Minister, the bedrock of our democracy is that each MP is elected to represent their local constituency. On Tuesday 28th April there will be a hustings event at 7:45pm in the refurbished Hook Community Centre, Ravenscroft. This is a public event to which all Hook residents are invited. Due to seating capacity limits admission will be by ticket which can be reserved online at http://www.bit.ly/electionhustings

I hope to see many of you at the hustings.

 

This blog post featured in the April 2015 edition of Hook Focus