Friday, April 18, 2014

Overwhelmed by Easter

I've been thinking for weeks now about an Easter post. Yet, it isn't until now that I've been able to put thoughts into words. Even now, I am overwhelmed by Easter.

This may seem like a strange observation. As a Christian, Easter should fill me with joy, hope, and faith. Holy Week should focus my thoughts, prayers, and energy. But overwhelm me? That doesn't sound quite right. Allow me to explain.

About 10 years ago, I was standing and singing praise songs at youth group, when all of a sudden, the lyrics I was singing hit me like a ton of bricks. "I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross." In that moment, by faith took on new depth. My eyes were opened and I realized (as much as I can in my own human brokenness) that Easter was for me. Christ endured the pain and the suffering and the humiliation and the betrayal for every one of my sins, even those I don't feel sorry for in my sinful pride. How does one process, especially at age 16, that brutal truth? More than a decade later, I'm still working on that, but Easter has taken on totally new meaning.

I think there's a cultural emphasis on Christmas. Beyond it's faith-filled meaning, the world has turned December 25 into "the" holiday. We count down to it, we sing about it, we send cards for it, we take off work for it...and I'm not saying that Christmas isn't an incredibly meaningful celebration. However, without Easter, the Christian faith means nothing. Our hope would be gone. Eternal life, not an option.

Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did. (Romans 6:6-11, The Message)

But what about people who proclaim to be Christians, yet make one visit to church per year, on Easter? Are they missing part of the story? A 2013 survey conducted by LifeWay research reports this. "Easter and Christmas are the most revered worship observances of the Christian faith," McConnell said. "The crux of the gospel is not just that Jesus came to earth in human form which we celebrate at Christmas, but that He lived a sinless life and was crucified in the place of mankind. God's acceptance of this payment for sin is seen in Him raising Jesus from the dead. This is what makes Easter so significant. Yet, surprisingly, many who call themselves Christian have no intentions of going to Easter services."

Easter is the happy ending, but a daily walk with God promises meaning and significance to Christ's death in a very personal way. For three days, Christ's followers waited, feared, doubted, and wrestled with the fact that the very man they had trusted as Savior was buried in a tomb. Those believers didn't have the happy ending yet. We do, and still people doubt in disbelief that Christ's death was for them and offers eternal life.

My words aren't perfect, because I am so filled with emotion and passion that I can hardly communicate what this week means to my faith. Fortunately, many of my favorite Christian authors and bloggers have put in to words what I can't.

Words or no words - my challenge to you (and to myself) is to ponder and meditate on what Christ's death and resurrection mean to your faith and to your life. And not just today, or this weekend, but every day. God is ALIVE - and because He lives, so may we.

In His love,

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