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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Why Easter?

The Christian celebration of Easter has, in recent years, been relegated to a religious holiday once again. As the United States shifts further away from a Christian moral compass, and embraces a world view that is tolerant of all views, we can expect that those in the Christian community will sense an alienation from the foundational faith it once enjoyed from the days of its inception.

There are those who are working very hard to erase any semblance of religion from the public square in America. There are a number of web sites on the Internet that are blatantly anti-Christian, spewing a level of vitriol that is nothing short of breath-taking. In reading through some of the comments made by those who frequent these sites I couldn’t help but see how their hatred for all things religious, and particularly Christianity, had more to do with the hypocrisy of Christians, and less about the truth of the message of Christ and salvation.

Those of us in the Christian church often harm the very cause of Christ because we engage in argumentation that merely reinforces the established distorted views of Christianity’s detractors. Make no mistake! I truly enjoy engaging in the art of Christian Apologetics, but not to argue just for the sake of arguing. A comment made by one of my professors during my first semester at seminary has always stuck with me. He said, “A seminary education is not so you can win arguments. Rather, it is so you can win people to Christ.”

As Christians it is important that we be up front about our walk of faith. There are indeed struggles, a wrestling with our old sin nature. Sometimes we lose in that struggle, and depending on the type of sin, it may be very obvious to others that a particular sin has gotten the better of us. In Hebrews 12:1 we are encouraged to put off “the sin that so easily entangles us.” This sin is like that pesky little dog in everyone’s neighborhood that yaps at your heels causing you to nearly fall over because he gets in so close to your feet. Too often we Christians explain away our sinful behavior by saying such unbiblical things as, “I’m not as bad as some people!” Or “The devil made me do it.” Or the classic “I’m not perfect!” The last thing a believer in Jesus Christ should ever do is make excuses for their sin. The Apostle John writes to Christians in his first letter to the church, “If we (Christians) confess our sins, he (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That’s what the Christian should do – every time.

Because Jesus went to the cross to die for your sin and mine, in him we have someone who works in us, always conforming us into his image. Think about that! God the Father wants us to become just like his son, Jesus. That is an awesome reality! All the more reason that as people of faith we never take our eyes off the Lord and his Word.

It’s important to understand that this is not something that I can bring about myself. I can’t make that happen. Instead, God causes all of the situations and circumstances in my life to be used to mold me, shape me, and conform me so that I gradually take on godly, Christ-like characteristics.

Here’s an interesting discovery that I’ve picked up on over the years. The more I keep looking intently at Jesus, the more I become aware of just how unlike him I really am. I liken this to that high-powered facial mirror that some women use that magnifies every blemish. One side of the mirror is a normal reflection. But that other side! Watch out! It really reveals the flaws and imperfections in the skin. That’s just like us. We’re comfortable with the normal reflection because it doesn’t actually show the bad stuff. But when we flip the mirror over and look into the magnified portion, it’s just like looking into the face of Jesus. His perfection reveals my imperfections. The good news is this: He’s also the surgeon who can make me “look” like him!

So, we celebrate Easter every year, acknowledging that Jesus rose from the dead to once and for all conquer sin and death. When we accept his sacrifice for us, he then begins the miracle of working on us so that we look just like him! Hallelujah!

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Happy Easter!

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