Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead~ 1st Peter 1:3
I am not a heathen. Really, I’m not.
I am a Christian and I genuinely love Jesus. I am far from perfect and I gave up long ago pretending that I have life all figured out. That said, I do take the practice of my faith seriously. I read the Bible. I believe the Bible and I do my level best to do what the Bible tells me to do. I am involved in my local church and I pray. I do all this consistently and for the most part cheerfully.
Nevertheless, I have a confession to make.
In spite of all my noble intentions and best efforts, I am horrible with Easter.
It’s really very sad. Most years the most holy and significant day on the Christian calendar passes me by without me giving it the thought and consideration that the season clearly deserves. I am not proud of this but it is what it is.
It’s not that I don’t celebrate the holiday. The celebration is actually a big part of the problem. Our church has all sorts of outreach and activity going on around Easter, and I do want to be involved in all of the goings-on. Then there’s the effort I go through to make the day special for my family.
We don’t do the Easter bunny thing, but I do make baskets for each of my kids (including the graduate student) and we have a special meal that usually includes a cross shaped cake or some other edible object lesson. None of the Easter activity is wrong and much of it is actually beneficial but it does take time and mental energy that detracts from spiritual reflection.
I determined that this year would be different.
And for the most part things have been better this year. I have worked to be more intentional about setting aside time just to think about and meditate on the significance of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The mediation has included some Bible reading and one morning last week I ran across this gem in the book of Ephesians.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms~ Ephesians 1:18-20
At first, the writer in me was simply struck by the beauty of his words. The Apostle Paul certainly knew how to construct a sentence. His writing style never fails to blow my mind. But his words do a whole lot more than paint an appealing picture in our minds. They impart a powerful truth: the very same power that raised Jesus to life is readily available to those who put their faith in Jesus.
As I considered this verse it occurred to me that few of us actually see the mighty strength of Jesus resurrection power in our day-to-day lives. Many convert to Christianity only to walk away when they find themselves disheartened by the lack of power they have to change and become the people God promises they can be.
There are at least two explanations for the lack of power many of us experience as Christians. The first has to do with the will. Many simply don’t have the spine to deal with the one issue that everybody has to deal with if they want to see God work powerfully in their lives.
That issue is sin.
Hebrews describes sin as a thing that entangles. Sin, if left unchecked in the life of a believer, wraps itself around us, stunting our growth and progress as Christians (Hebrews 12:1). Jesus was so adamant about believers dealing with their sin in a decisive fashion that he used some intense though hyperbolic language to advocate doing whatever necessary to deal assertively with any and every sin (Matthew 5:29).
Lack of faith will also hold believers back from seeing God’s power work in their lives. Faith is double-sided. Genuine faith does not simply believe that God exists. Saving faith also believes that God will do the things He promises He will do in His word. Sin and faith are closely linked; many have no problem imagining God’s existence but they can’t quite buy into the notion that God actually hates sin. Believing in God is not enough to see His power in our lives. We must also believe that He means what He says.
Easter is the season of new beginnings and fresh starts. God is always willing to give us one if we are willing. Get yours today by reaching out in faith to the God who loved you enough to die for you.