Christians, pray for tomorrow morning.
There are two days a year that non-churchgoers go to church. Tomorrow is one, and for good reason.
Easter Sunday is a celebration of the only hope for humanity. Of the reason that we can have joy. Of the fact that, in the end, it will all be okay.
We fast for the 40 days of Lent because Easter is that big a deal. We need that much time to adequately prepare. Tomorrow is a day worth celebrating, perhaps more than any other.
Tomorrow is a great chance for people to meet Jesus.
Pray that they will.
The name Good Friday bothered me for a while after I learned what it was all about. It offended my sensibilities to call such a horrendous day “good.”
Today, Christians commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross. To be blunt, we remember the day humanity murdered God. And not in a swift, sanitary, humane way, either. Crucifixion is absolutely horrific. It’s a nightmarish way to kill someone. And we inflicted it on the only truly good man ever to live.
For a long time, I was preoccupied by our guilt. I focused on our sins, our actions that sent Jesus to the cross.
Then, I saw something else.
Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. Not at all. He prayed not to go. But He was ready to do it if it were the only way. Soon after that prayer, armed men came to arrest Him. Peter, one of His closest followers, tried to take of the guys’ heads off with his sword.
Jesus stopped him and healed the man Peter had attacked.
Think about that. He had just begged His Father to let Him skip the cross. One of His followers then attacked His captors. A lesser man would have run. But Jesus apparently had His answer.
He went willingly.
Even when the men who had Him arrested taunted Him, challenging Him to get off the cross and prove that He was the Messiah, He stayed. Mind you, He could have blasted the cross to splinters with his mind and called down lightning on all the unbelievers. He didn’t.
That’s the “good” of Good Friday: that Jesus chose the cross for us.
We live in a culture that avoids discomfort at all costs. We see boredom, inconvenience, and pain as great evils. I don’t want that perspective.
For the past several years, I’ve fasted from the evening of Good Friday until Easter Sunday. This year, I’ll do the same, but I’ll be thinking about it differently. Before, I would think about the weight of our sin every time my stomach growled.
This year, it will be less for guilt and more for worship.
This year, the discomfort will be a reminder to say “thank you” to the God who paid the cost of mercy.
When you think of Christians, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Got your answer?
Here are some common responses:
- Those people that hate gays (if we do, we shouldn’t)
- Hypocrites (fair enough, as my friend Broken Hypocrite will tell you)
- People who go to church on Sunday (so close)
- People who believe in Jesus (better)
I ask because it’s Maundy Thursday. Today, Christians commemorate the Last Supper, where Jesus gave His followers communion for the first time. Please note: communion is important to Christians. But the day isn’t called Communion Thursday.
“Maundy” comes from the Latin for “mandate.” Today is named for a command Jesus gave His followers. A command that should define what Christianity looks like to the world.
“A new command I give you,” He said. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
There were times in history when Christians were known for their heart-breaking, self-sacrificial love. In ancient Rome, Christians shamed the pagans by caring for not only their own, but the pagans who had been infected with plague, when no one else would. They died to show Christ’s love.
Jesus told us how people would recognize us as His, and it’s not our church attendance. It’s not spouting perfect theology. It’s not waving a protest sign. It’s not even a clever Christian t-shirt.
That’s not an opinion. It’s not a suggestion. It’s not one more cool idea to file away and forget. It’s a mandate. It’s a command.
This needs to be what we’re about, first and foremost. We need to love people unflinchingly. We need to speak the truth firmly and kindly. We need to sacrifice for others readily.
Maybe then we’ll see the day when people think of Christians as “those people that just love you, no matter what.”
Christians, it’s time. It’s past time.
It’s Easter this Sunday. You know what that means: church and chocolate. Probably brunch with the family. Gotta find a clean shirt. Gotta get up early for a weekend.
When I was growing up, Easter seemed like a seriously random holiday. I could get on board with Halloween and Christmas, but I didn’t really get Easter. I was glad for the Cadbury Cream Eggs – oh, so glad! – and the chance to see my cousins, but I couldn’t tell you the point of it.
When I became a Christian, Easter was all new. And it was the best thing ever. It wasn’t just another holiday anymore.
It was a celebration of my reason to live.
The story of Easter is that God came to Earth and sacrificed His life to restore the relationship we broke with Him. Then, He beat up death and came back.
Forget the bunny. If all that is true, it changes everything.
If Jesus was willing to forgive us, even as we killed Him, we don’t have to worry about being loved: we are. If Jesus really is God and really is the one true authority, we don’t have to worry about purpose: it’s to follow Him. If Jesus actually paid for our sins and rose from the dead, we don’t have to worry about eternity: He’s taken care of it.
That’s worth celebrating.
Several people at Crossroads will be celebrating Easter as Christians for the first time. I’m excited for them. It’s a fantastic experience.
If you want, join us this Sunday and see what it’s all about. We’d be glad to have you there.