By Mike RuffinYou are reading these words during the week that Christians call ‘Holy.’ Friday is Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. Sunday is Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the foundations on which the Christian faith stands. Preachers have spoken and scholars have written innumerable words on the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I hesitate to speak for Christians, given the wide range of theological assumptions and opinions that exist among us, but I think I can safely say that we believe that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection make all the difference.We believe that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection make all the difference at the end of our lives. We believe that because Jesus died and rose again, we have everlasting life. We believe that death is not the end, but rather is the gateway to an existence that is more wonderful than we are capable of comprehending or even imagining. We affirm these truths at funerals. Hopefully we also affirm them all through the lives we live before we get to our funerals.We also believe that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection make all the difference at the end of time. We believe that God is working God’s purposes out and that God will finally make all things as God intends them to be. As we believe that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection are central to God’s purposes, we also believe that Jesus’ second coming will culminate those purposes.So Christians believe that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection make all the difference at the end of our lives and at the end of time. But since we are still alive and since time and history are continuing, those events are (obviously) still in the future.So what difference do Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection make here and now?What difference does Jesus’ crucifixion make in the ways we live in this world and in this time? Christians tend to talk a lot’”as we should’”about the fact that Jesus died for us. We say things such as, ‘Jesus died for our sins’ and ‘Jesus died so we can be forgiven.’ Again, we should say those things. We should celebrate them! We should live in light of the fact that Jesus died for us.But we should also live in light of the fact that Jesus calls us to die with him. Jesus laid down his life for us, and he summons us to lay down our lives for God and for each other. What does this mean, given that chances are slim that we will have to literally die for God or for other people? It certainly means that we put the needs of other people ahead of our own, that we practice selflessness rather than selfishness, and that we do whatever we can to help people in need.Christians follow the Savior who died on the cross and who calls us to walk in the way of the cross. That is the way of service and sacrifice. That is the way of love.What difference does Jesus’ resurrection make in the ways we live here and now? On one hand, it means that we live in light of the way things are going to be. We will be resurrected someday and God will bring all things to their appropriate fulfillment someday. We live in the assurance of those great truths. But walking in newness of life and knowing that our true citizenship is in heaven does not enable or allow us to live above the pain and suffering in this world. Because we are people of the cross, we enter into the world’s suffering with the willingness to take it onto ourselves. Because we are people of the resurrection, we try to bring the hope of new life into the world’s death, destruction, and despair. We affirm that we will be raised from the dead someday. For as long as we live in this world, we should try to spread as much hope and life around as we can.We Christians believe that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ will make all the difference in the end. They should also make all the difference right here and right now.Do they?The answer largely comes down to how much love we practice and how much life we share.