It was May Day, 1990. The place, Moscow's Red Square. "Is it straight, Father?" one Orthodox priest asked another, shifting the heavy, eight-foot crucifix on his shoulder. "Yes," said the other. "It is straight." Together the two priests, along with a group of parishioners holding ropes that steadied the beams of the huge cross, walked the parade route.
Before them was passed the official might of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: The usual May Day procession of tanks, missiles, troops, and salutes to the Communist party elite. Behind the tanks surged a giant crowd of protesters, shouting up at Mikhail Gorbachev. "Bread!...Freedom!...Truth!"
As the throng passed directly in front of the Soviet leader standing in his place of honor, the priests hoisted their heavy burden toward the sky. The cross emerged from the crowd. As it did, the figure of Jesus Christ obscured the giant poster faces of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin that provided the backdrop for Gorbachev's reviewing stand.
"Mikhail Sergeyevich!" one of the priests shouted, his deep voice cleaving the clamor of the protesters and piercing straight toward the angry Soviet leader. "Mikhail Sergeyevich! Christ is risen!"
Within six months, as most of us know, Communism had imploded. Of course, when it had first arisen, the leaders of the Communist movement had all proclaimed the birth of a new world order. And in that order, there was simply no room for the divine. For all intents and purposes, they arrogantly asserted, the God of the Bible was dead and gone.
Yet, it has now been more than a quarter of as century since that fateful spring in the Soviet Union; and it is Communism, not God, which has essentially been relegated to the dustbin of history.
You see, my friend, all that has really occurred in the ensuing years is the inevitable crash of yet another failed world system. All the while, one entity alone still stands strong – the Church of Jesus Christ. And why is that? Because the Christian Church alone is the one organization that is built upon a solid and lasting foundation. As the Apostle Paul reminded young Timothy (in 2 Timothy 2:19), only “God’s solid foundation stands firm”.
And what is that foundation? The Apostle Paul tells us in his First New Testament Letter to the Corinthians (3:11): "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."
He then goes on (in verses 12-15) to admonish us to be certain that we have rightly built our lives upon the One Who is the only right foundation:
"If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved - even though only as one escaping through the flames."
In so doing, Paul is most assuredly alluding to the words of Jesus, Himself, in His famed "Sermon on the Mount" in Matthew 7:24-27:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."
"But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
And that is why I praise the Lord for what Christians everywhere will celebrate this coming Easter Sunday, when we will again boldly proclaim what that brave Russian Priest boldly declared: “Christ is risen!” And throughout the ages, myriads of other believers have also bravely joined with him and asserted that very same message.
Whether it was celebrated under the oppression of the vaunted Roman Empire, the Barbarian hordes, the Mongols, the Byzantines, the (un)Holy Roman Empire, the Ottomans, the Victorians, the Nazis, the Communists, or any of a score of other so-called Superpowers in human history, the defiant cry of Easter has always been, is now, and always will be: “Christ is risen!”
And on that Solid Rock alone we stand! For all other ground is sinking sand! I leave you with the words of the acclaimed hymn writer Alfred Ackley, who penned these memorable lines:
I serve a risen Savior, he's in the world today;
I know that he is living, whatever others say;
I see his hand of mercy, I hear his voice of cheer,
and just the time I need him, he's always near.
He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.
He lives, he lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know he lives?
He lives within my heart.
In all the world around me, I see his loving care,
and though my heart grows weary, I never will despair;
I know that he is leading, through all the stormy blast,
the day of his appearing, will come at last. [Refrain]
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
eternal hallelujahs, to Jesus Christ the King!
The hope of all who seek him, the help of all who find,
no other is so loving, so good and kind. [Refrain]
ORIGINAL STORY SOURCE: Charles W. Colson, The Body (Word Publishing, 1992), p. 231.
THIS STORY IS CITED IN NUMEROUS PLACES ON INTERNET: http://www.christianity.com/devotionals/the-connection-devotional-skip-heitzig/the-connection-devotional-week-of-april-6.html?utm_source=next
SEE ALSO: https://bible.org/illustration/red-square
THE ORIGINAL NY TIMES STORY CAN BE FOUND AT: http://www.nytimes.com/1990/05/02/world/evolution-in-europe-gorbachev-jeered-at-may-day-rally.html
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/niv/
HYMN SOURCE: http://www.hymnary.org/text/i_serve_a_risen_savior