After the empty tomb: grace with purpose

What is required of us post-­Resurrection? That is the burning question in my heart during this season of Eastertide (which lasts 49 days, until Pentecost).

After Easter, we are like the disciples after the Resurrection — their faith restored after witnessing their leader crucified, followed by two days of hopelessness and fear.

We can imagine how terrifying Friday was to them. Throughout Saturday, their hope was shattered.

But — to God be the glory! — there was a Sunday morning.

And there is a Sunday morning for us.

For Jesus’ disciples, and for us, Sunday morning brings renewed hope and resolve to walk with the Lord.
What is required of us as 21st-­century disciples?

Post-Resurrection, is it time to fold our hands and be at ease? To boast in the victory of the empty tomb?
It is time to act.

After the excitement of the Resur­rection, Jesus gave in­structions: Go and make disciples of all nations, sharing the great things he has done and the message of hope he has brought. The apostles obeyed this command, even though it cost them their lives.

What is required of us? The prophet Micah attempted to answer that question. The Message puts his words this way: “He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously — take God seriously” (Micah 6:8).

Simple? Yes. Easy? Maybe not — and even more difficult in some parts of the world.

Missionaries and local Christians are living out Jesus’ command and Micah’s vision with special courage in nations where Christians are persecuted, such as Nigeria and China and certain Middle Eastern countries. Like the apostles, they are sustained by the presence of Jesus at their side.

as we consider our post-Resurrection calling, I think of Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1).

What did Paul mean by his warning against accepting the grace of God in vain?

I think we receive grace in vain when we don’t use it to stand with the minority: the abused, hungry, homeless, victims of racism and inequality.

We receive grace in vain when we fail to stand up against the resurgence of racism and xenophobia.

The opposite of accepting God’s grace in vain is receiving God’s grace with purpose.

We receive grace with purpose when we accept Jesus’ assignment to spread the Good News far and wide: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

I have been privileged to witness a missionary pastor here in California who heard his people’s cry in Nigeria and, like Nehemiah, ran to their aid. For almost three years, Anabaptist ­Pastor Chuwang Pam left the church he served for nearly two decades to minister in Nigeria because he heard the blood of the innocent crying.

You may have heard about the acts of terrorism Nigerians are experiencing, especially in the northern part of the country where Chuwang had dual citizenship. Boko Haram militants and Fulani herdsmen besiege the cities, massacring Christians. Churches have been burned and families displaced from their homes, forced to renounce Christ or die.
Chuwang is rebuilding churches and houses, returning families to their homes and congregants to their churches, running a daily food and hygiene program in the cities’ camps.

When I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago, he and others were trying to set up security drones to warn of intrusions by Fulani herdsmen.

For me, Chuwang’s work in Nigeria is one way the grace of God is not received in vain.

Yes, post-Resurrection, the work has not ended. It has just begun.

You can partner with missionaries today. Your kind and generous contribution can help these fearless workers. Please help Chuwang Pam do justice and show mercy to the voiceless and powerless in Nigeria. Ask me how at anthoniaonye@gmail.com.

Anthonia Onye

Anthonia Onye is regional minister for Southern California for Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference. Read More

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!