STOP SEEKING THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD
We have just celebrated Easter Sunday, otherwise known as Ressurrection Sunday. This is when Christians all over the world celebrate Jesus Christ’s ressurection from the dead.
In the account of the resurrection according to Luke’s gospel, chapter 24:1-7, we are told:
“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they (the women also, which came with him from Galilee-Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them) came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
The two men who informed the women that Jesus was no longer in the tomb were angels of God. Their words to the women: specifically them saying “Remember how he spake to you in Galillee…”: were bringing to their recollection something that Jesus had told them would happen.
The angels were saying “When Jesus was alive, He told you that they would kill Him. He also told you that He would rise from the dead after 3 days! So, if He told you that He would rise from the dead, that means that He would certainly not be in this tomb. A tomb is for dead people. Jesus is not dead. He is alive. That being said, “Why seek ye He who is alive in the place set aside for those who are dead?”
The celebration of Easter is an annual event, and though the world has tried and continues to try to secularize it to the fullest, it remains, I believe, a most significant gift of God to His people in this world.
As Christians, we are affected by circumstances just as every other human being in this world. We face hardship, suffering, disappointment, loss, trepidation, heartbreak, oppression, illness, devastation, fear, depression, sadness, etc, just like everyone else in this world…
…and Christ said that we would.
However, just before He was parted from His disciples, He prayed to The Father for them saying:
“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17: 9, 15-16)
In His prayer, Jesus makes a clear distinction between His disciples and ‘the world.’ This distinction also assures us that His prayers and promises are meant for His disciples and all who will believe in Him through their word. His prayers and promises are NOT meant for ‘the world’.
When Christ prays to the Father to “keep us from the evil” many of us believe that it means that we will not suffer. That is not true. Not only is that belief unsubstantiated in the Word of God, the Word of God specifically tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” and in John 16:33b “In the world ye shall have tribulation”
The world (which is a term that represents every thing and system determined to do without Jesus Christ) and all it has to offer constitutes ‘the evil’.The world, under the direction of Satan, aka the Prince of this world, will offer deceptive forms of relief. These deceptive forms of relief will not only be within our reach, but they will always mimic that which Jesus Christ offers us, and Jesus Christ is praying for us to the Father to deliver us from these things.
1 John 2:15-17 tells us:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
The Lord is telling us in these verses that if we continue to seek solace and comfort from the things of this world: a world that is perishing and temporal; ‘dying’, then we are, in essence, seeking the things of “Life” from that which is dead, i.e the world.
So the question now becomes, O thou follower of Jesus Christ, what do YOU do when that persecution comes? Where do YOU turn when that persecution comes?
Understand that the ‘persecution’, though it be meted out by the hands of men and women, it’s source is always the “evil” referred to in John 17:15 and in the Lord’s prayer where Jesus says “but deliver us from evil”, and Christ’s prayer to The Father, on our behalf, is that we not be “overcome by that evil.” Meaning that we do not turn from the only source of our deliverance – Christ, and turn to the world or the things of this world to seek relief.
We who are children of Light cannot seek the things of Light and Life from that which is ‘death and darkness’, namely, the world. We can and must only seek Light and Life from the Giver of Light and Life – Jesus Christ.
No matter the suffering (for we are not experiencing anything that Christ did not tell us in advance that we wouldn’t experience with “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” [2 Timothy 3:12] and “In the world ye shall have tribulation” [John 16:33] ) we must trust in Christ and the deliverance that comes from Him alone.
I believe that the problem for many Christians arises when we envision that Christ’s deliverance will come in a certain manner and when it does not come according to our vision, we become desperate for relief by any means. That is when we become ensnared by anything that gives us relief and makes us feel better. The truth, however, is that not all ‘relief’ comes from God.
Therefore, knowing this, we cannot seek the living (the relief, peace and strength to endure that can only come from Jesus Christ) amongst the dead (the relief, comfort and convivialities of this world).
Satan offers comfort. Satan offers peace. Satan offers prosperity, happiness and healing. But the things offered by Satan are the things of death.
Jesus says in John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
He also says in John 16:33
“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
What the world and it’s Prince have to offer are nothing compared with that which our Lord and Savior has to offer. That is why we, His followers, must not seek peace, prosperity, relief and comfort, but the peace, prosperity, relief and comfort that comes from Christ and Christ alone. If Christ is all we seek, He will expose any angel of darkness trying to masquere as an angel of light.
2 Timothy 3:10-11 the Apostle Paul says
“But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.”
The Spirit of Christ will cause us to fully understand His doctrine, manner of life and purpose. His Spirit will manifest in us His faith, longsuffering, charity and patience. So that when we are faced with persecutions and affliction, by His Life within us, we will endure and overcome.
There is, however, a question that each of us must ask ourselves: “Which is more important to me? Overcoming the world as a faithful disciple of Christ or having a good life in this world?”
Because if all we want is a good life in this world, the we do not need Jesus Christ. The world can give us that.
For Christ did not live and die to give us a good life in this world. He lived and died that we might have life and have it more abundantly. That is what He promises to those who are faithful to Him.
The former comes with only a promise for this world which as the scriptures have told us, is perishing.
The latter comes with a promise for this world and the world to come – For this world we will be certified. For the world to come, we will be glorified.
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-12.
Fellow Christ seekers, as we march on in this life, under the umbrella of God’s grace, let us ask Him, that by the power of that grace at work within us, to help us to stop seeking the living among the dead. Let us stop seeking the things of this world to ease our afflictions. Instead, let us seek the deliverance of God only.
The Lord, by the working of His perfect grace, is sufficient to point out the difference between the two to us. However, He will only point it out to us if we are truly desiring to know if we are guilty or not.
Let the prayer be “Lord, if I, unbeknownst to myself, seek peace and relief from any source other than you alone, please reveal it to me. When you reveal it to me, grant me the contrition to accept it. Then, lead me in The Way everlasting. If I have to endure suffering for your sake – for the sake of my trusting in you and you alone as my source of everything – then I, by your grace will endure it in joy and confidence. Trusting and believing that you will, according to your promise, deliver me.”
Since we know that God will answer every prayer according to His will and we know that it is His will that we trust in Him completely and walk in the Light and Life of Jesus Christ, then we know, of all surety, that this is a prayer that He will answer. May we continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.