The Easter Effect: The Authors Collection

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THIS WEEKEND, people around the globe gather to remember, honor, and reflect on events that happened some two thousand years ago in a micro-spot on the world map.  They referred to this cluster of events as the essence of what they called the Gospel.

The word itself comes from the idea of “good news” or “glad tidings.”  It is intended to convey the idea of divinely directed redemption and deliverance.  It is also a reminder that there is hope — now and in the future.

David R. Stokes
David R. Stokes

The key to their success was that they were the first to experience the Easter Effect.  They lived, worked, and died with a sense of fulfillment and joy because they never got over what they knew to be true — having seen it with their own eyes.  They were dramatically transfigured people.  They were radically redirected in life by an encounter with the Gospel.

The Apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the fledgling and deeply flawed church at Corinth to address several concerns and offer corrective counsel.  Toward the end of the epistle, he reminded his audience that part of the reason why they were so dysfunctional in their faith and practice had to do with what they had forgotten — or at least minimized.  He drew them back to the basics.  And it all had to do with what Jesus had done a few decades before (See I Corinthians 15:1-8).

At the time, Christians were migrating and ministering en route to the uttermost parts of the earth, as Jesus had instructed.  And Corinth was a strategic, if spiritually stubborn, place.  The city was synonymous with evil to the extent that to use the city’s name in reference to a woman was the worst kind of vulgar slur.

Then there was the fact that the early advance of Christianity was made against the backdrop of the reality and rule of Rome.  It was the era of Pax Romana: Roman hegemony kept the relative peace, which meant that there was more time for other pursuits.  Decadence was in full bloom.  Moral restraint was virtually nonexistent.  Frankly, the political and cultural dynamics were arguably much more challenging than what we see in America today.

Many of those early practitioners of the Christian faith, however, didn’t seem to be intimidated by such a potentially daunting challenge, the problem-laden Corinthians notwithstanding.  This was largely because they grasped the concept that the message of the Gospel was more about redemption than reformation.  It was more about individual salvation than solving social problems.  And it was more about a world to come than the world that was — or is.

This is not to say that these souls on fire were indifferent to cultural or political matters.  They just seemed to know that ultimate hope and change were never really possible via human means and methods.  To bring about social justice, the kind implied in the command to love neighbor as self, required obedience to a greater commandment first.  That would be the one about loving God completely.

Loving God fuels righteous deeds, healed relationships, and cultural conscience and stability.  The attempt to truly love one’s neighbor in a social justice sense without acknowledging and loving God tends to devolve into a mere struggle for power.

The early Christians functioned in the wake and warmth of the Easter Effect.  The Gospel changed them from the inside out, and they went forward and turned the world upside-down.

Happy Easter — He Is Risen!

Please click the book cover image to read more about David R. Stokes and his books.

 

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