For the second year in a row we spent Easter Sunday here in the Peten region of Guatemala. As a child I grew up climbing Stone Mountain on Easter morning to sing “He Lives” on top of the mountain, huddled in blankets due to the cold winds at such an altitude, even in Georgia during April.
Later we would rush home to don new dresses, carefully shopped for, and Easter bonnets and head to church where we would once again sing the traditional lines,
”I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today
I know that He is living whatever men may say
The help of all who seek him the help of all who find
None other is so loving, so good and kind
He Lives! He Lives! Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives……He lives within my heart.”
Today I found myself singing those same lines aloud in the car as we rumbled down a gravel road in an old beat up Sequoia driven by our good friend Tim Spurrier, dressed in our Easter best headed to an outdoor stadium in northern Guatemala. I thought of what a different childhood my children are having from my own.
No egg hunts awaited us afterwards. Instead, we would feast on tortillas and guacamole. They seemed happy about it yet I lamented the fact that I had failed to pack my Easter hat.During the service, held in an outdoor amphitheater alongside the lake, Pastors from more than ten churches throughout the Peten united to pray for Guatemala, its education, its children, its jobs and its young people. It was a special time bringing unity amongst the churches as we shared the Lord’s supper together at the end. Jon Langley accompanied the reflection time during communion on the keyboard and Josiah, always looking for a way to be a part, forsook a soccer game he had been playing behind the ampitheater (I found all of this out later)
in order to run onstage with his little bongos and play along. It was a beautiful time.
A highlight of the service was hearing three pastors share on the proofs of the resurrection. Each one shared a few deeply theological proofs, even noting extra-biblical authors such as Josephus in order to substantiate the Truth of the resurrection. However, as each pastor concluded his hermeneutical defense of the resurrection, he finished with the defense that made every heart present rejoice and presented the real reason why churches all over the world have united on this particular Sunday for centuries now in order to sing of a risen Savior- the proof of a transformed life.
Each of these well-read, well-educated pastors could not deny that the greatest witness to the the Truth of the resurrection is the almost inexplicable change in the Believer’s life. It struck me most, in carrying away that message in my heart, that if the Believer’s life is the greatest proof of the resurrection then it is vital that we truly live transformed. If our lives are the greatest proofs validating the resurrection and the Biblical testimony of resurrection, life over death power, then it becomes absolutely crucial that the Believer truly lives and exemplifies a transformed life.
If the church as a whole and its members in particular, cease to live lives that transcend culture and speak glory
…lives that declare “I know that He is living whatever men may say”
…lives that exemplify an immovable faith in a God they have seen and experienced personally
…then our greatest proof of the resurrection will cease as well.
So this Resurrection Day the thought I am taking away is this: let us continue to make disciples, let us continue to expose our children to the lovely liturgies of Easter, let us continue to gather atop mountains and in church buildings whether at sunrise or sunset, let us continue to sing songs of the risen savior and remember Him through the taking of the elements during Holy Communion. Yet above all, let us live lives that are truly transformed- lives that demonstrate that the tomb is empty and, as a result, we are filled.