March 2016 Director's Encouragement Letter [Topic: You Are Risen]

Dear Friend,

Happy spring! I hope you’re looking forward to celebrating Easter. It could be argued that it’s the most important holiday in the Christian faith. It’s certainly one of the oldest (if not the oldest) observed.

I’ve celebrated many Easter Sundays in my life, and I’ve noticed how easy it is to recount what Jesus did during Holy Week like an elaborate history lesson. Looking at Easter as a past historical event allows us to be thankful but remain separate from it. And this detachment can rob us of being drastically impacted by Christ’s work in our lives today.

Personally, I became disillusioned with this sort of disconnected approach to Easter. It felt as though I was being asked to intellectually re-live a close friend’s death by dissecting the details of how it happened in morbid fashion. It was depressing, and I missed how I was intimately connected to any of it.

But more recently I’ve seen Easter in a different, and I believe more complete, way. I had known very well what Jesus had done for me. He had shed His blood for the forgiveness of my sins. But I hadn’t know about what He had done with me.

Before I became a Christian, I believed that if I could outweigh all the wrong things I did with enough right things, that would make me a good person. It was only a matter of time before I realized I couldn’t do enough right things to counterbalance the wrong things. Exhausted from the futility of my efforts, I embraced what Jesus had done for me. I accepted that He forgave me of the wrong things I do. This was a wonderful gift and for a long time I thought this was all that Easter was about.

But things didn’t change for me as much as I thought they would after I accepted God’s forgiveness. I was still doing wrong things and I was still trying to compensate by doing more right things to try to feel good. I wanted to feel worthy of Christ’s death for me.

I finally realized that my problem was about more than just doing wrong things. Those individual sins were symptomatic of a deeper issue. It was my entire spiritual condition that separated me from God. I couldn’t just focus on my actions. I needed to fundamentally change.

I was overjoyed to learn that there was a provision for my spiritual condition in the gift of Easter. The Bible says that Jesus not only died for my sins, He also took me into Himself so that I could die with Him (Romans 6:6, Galatians 2:20). This death removes my old spiritual condition and gives me a new spiritual condition (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new spiritual condition is resurrected, ascended, and seated in the heavenly places with Christ (Romans 6:4-5, Ephesians 2:6).

Easter isn’t only about Christ forgiving our sins, it’s also about Him giving us a new life–His life. He took us to the cross with Him so we could die with Him. This death frees us from our old, wrecked spiritual condition, and in His resurrection we are given a brand new spiritual condition.

This year, as you think about how Christ died for you, remember that you’ve also died with Him–and been resurrected with Him too!

If you’d like further reading, the ELM web site (elmco.org) has a blog with articles from numerous authors. It also has an archive of all the letters I’ve written to you. As always, you’re welcome to contact me for further encouragement.

He is risen. He is risen indeed. And so are you!
Mike
Mike Roncaglia, Executive Director

Mike Roncaglia is the Executive Director of Exchanged Life Ministries. He has been on staff since 2011 but has been connected with the ministry 25+ years. He is a speaker, teacher, writer, administrator, and counselor. He is happliy married to Jill and they have a son Jonas.