Are you a CEO?
If asked in the context of your career, the answer is apparent: just look at your business card. An organizational chart somewhere will be an independent confirmation of your claim: Chief Executive Officer; every enterprise has one, and most of the players beneath her/him aspire to replace them…
Ask that question in the context of a church community, and the acrostic frames an entirely different identity. Among pastors, the meaning is stark: Christmas and Easter Only. CEOs – in the worship world – are the folks who come out for the annual big-events… and see little/no reason to show up in-between…
The Virgin Birth and the Resurrection are certainly once-in-forever events, but they’re more than dates-on-the calendar, to be remembered for their one-off occurrence. The Incarnation marked the intervention of the Eternal God into the fallen human race; the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus were factors in the Gospel of Salvation that make personal redemption possible.
How can men and women whose legacy from Adam and Eve has assured eternal separation from God and paints a future of hopelessness break out of that irresolvable conundrum? Simply put: Make the truths embedded in Christmas and Easter personal.
Paul knew that to be the most important conclusion that any person could ever reach: “Now brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
This is Christianity 101; it’s the foundational understanding that must be personally embraced by every person to gain its redemptive benefit. By this gospel – good news – the sentence of judgment is reversed and the provision of forgiveness is assured. How will the entire world population ever discover God’s amazing offer of forgiveness and life through Jesus?
It was post-Easter, c. 30 AD. Jesus had 40 days before He would return to His throne in Heaven. One of His meetings – days before his departure – was crucial: “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:16-20).
I wish we had a YouTube of that encounter; the look on the faces of the 11 would tell a story that this blog-post page cannot recapture. They had invested three years to follow and listen; they rode an emotional see-saw as they saw their imaginations crushed and their leader defamed, only to be blindsided as he beat death and proclaimed the spiritual victory. What now?
For the Apostles, Jesus answered the questions that every person – at some point in life – poses in the quiet moments: Who am I? Why am I here? What should I do with my life?
Their answer – and ours – came as the finale: You are my witness. You are here to get the Gospel to every person, in every nation. Your life is yours to commit to the Great Commission.
Be careful when you ask the critical questions: Jesus, who has all authority – not just in Heaven, but on Earth – has the answers. Now, the question turns back to us: what will we do about that?