April 2014:

Really good news!

Grace, peace and joy from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Spring has come! Day by day nature is becoming greener and greener. Flowers are beginning to bloom and we are experiencing the beauty of creation once again. We cannot but praise our God who has done a great, great job in creating the seasons. Thanks be to God!This month we will celebrate Easter. God raised Jesus from the dead. We proclaim that Jesus Christ is risen indeed! This is really good news. The power of sin and death seemed to win the battle. Jesus died on the cross without any significant resistance or fight against evil power. Jesus looked like a powerless loser. Unjust and sinful power seemed to be dominant in the world, and hope for the kingdom of God seemed to have faded away.

However, the victory of sinful power did not last long. On the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead. Resurrection is God’s act. Humans said “no” to Jesus, but God said “yes” by raising Jesus from the tomb. And in that act, love and truth won the battle. The resurrection of Jesus sent us the message that God still reigns and justice and love will prevail in the end. So, the resurrection of Jesus gives us great hope for our lives.

As we seek to live following the truth of God, we may sometimes face challenges and difficulties. We may be isolated and unwelcomed by those who live according to the values of the world. We may be criticized by those who are compromising and ignoring the voices of their consciences. We may lose battles and suffer many disadvantages. However, there is really good news! The victory of the power of darkness does not last forever. In the end, honesty and justice will win. Love and truth will prevail.

God sent us a powerful message of this hope by raising Jesus from the dead. Our risen Lord is still alive. This is the Easter story. We are Easter people, believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are people of hope in our risen Lord.

In this season of Easter, I pray for the resurrection of our churches. Bill Easum, a well-known church consultant, wrote a book entitled A Second Resurrection. In this book, he strongly emphasizes the need of the resurrection of our churches. If the church is spiritually dead, a renewal or revitalization plan will not work. These churches need resurrection.

Easum explains spiritually dead church as follows:
• Have lost their sense of mission to those who have not heard about Jesus Christ and do not pant after the Great Commission;
• Expect their pastors to focus primarily on ministering to their members’ personal, spiritual needs;    
• Design ministry to meet the needs of their members;
• Have no idea about the needs of the “stranger outside the gates”;
• Are focused more on the past than the future;
• Often experience major forms of conflict;
• Watch the bottom line of the financial statement more than the number of Confessions of Faith.

I invite our churches to reflect upon this list. Easum says that for the resurrection of the church we need to diagnose our reality honestly, and leaders must die to themselves and trust God to resurrect it. I agree with what he says. If we do not die, there will be no resurrection. It is only when churches die to themselves that God can resurrect them. I recommend that you read this book for a new future for our churches. You may not agree with him 100 percent, but here is a message we need to hear.

April is truly a beautiful month. In it we can see the vitality of nature and the truth that life is stronger than death.  In this season of Easter, my hope is that all of us will experience anew the reality of life overcoming the power of death. May we not only proclaim the really good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also experience the presence of the risen Christ in our lives. I pray that we will truly shout with great joy: Christ is risen! Yes, Christ is risen, indeed, in our lives, in our families and in our churches!

In our risen Lord,
Young Jin Cho

 

 

 

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