faith & easter

How would you define faith? Now, how would you define Easter?

For me, both words are connected to my relationship with the Lord. Yet I recognize that people can have faith in many things, even in people and still not define the word “faith” from a spiritual standpoint like I would. The same is true for Easter. Even though most churches see more people on Easter Sunday than any other time of year – there is large cluster of people who would define Easter in terms like: Easter Bunny, Easter Egg, Easter Egg Hunt, Easter Basket, Easter Dinner, etc. – things that don’t even imply the Christian celebration of Easter, the remembrance of Christ resurrection and victory over sin and death.

Now for some that may not seem like a big distinction. And perhaps for others their definition of Easter would contain elements for both. People may debate the correctness of that – I won’t, probably ever. My kids will probably know both perspectives of Easter – the Easter bunny and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet just like my definition of “faith” and “easter” tend to center on my relationship with Christ, so should the way I live out my faith and the hope I have because of that first Easter.

I have encounter many people who struggle with believing God, with having a saving faith in Him. They have their lists. And those list are long. And the validity of their lists are scary. And I have encountered people who struggle with Easter. They struggle with all the ways the Easter story of Jesus Christ blows holes in their common logic or personal experiences. Both the lists of “why I am not a Christian” and the statements regarding the resurrection of Jesus being illogical, etc. are for many, very valid.

Yet tolerance can be a scary thing, can’t it? Tolerance keeps us from action. And with issues regarding our faith in God and with the true meaning of Easter, tolerance, in my opinion, cannot be afforded. Yet we often allow tolerance to creep into our relationship with God. And tolerance begins to destroy our faith. Some of you reading right now, may be shaking your heads in disagreement with this idea. Yet if you’re pro-tolerance, then why can you shake your head at what I am saying now? Doesn’t that speak against the very spirit of tolerance?

Faith has to be defined in a very specific way, not just tolerated or even put into our schedule or calendar. We have come to tolerate too many definitions of a saving faith in God. We have allowed to many others things to define faith and use the word faith as their describer – and the same is very true with Easter.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything. All of history pointed to a Messiah that would come and save us all from sin. And all of history has pointed back to that moment when Jesus conquered sin and death. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything for us as followers of the Lord. Every aspect of our lives, every day, should reflect the promise and power of the resurrection.

This Easter I have been reminded how to define faith and how to live in the promise and the power of the resurrection. We make believing in God and in the story of the resurrection so very complicated. Many have been hurt by the church or appalled by hypocritical Christians. And although I feel like I understand why this happens, but they let those things keep them living a life of faith, fueled by the promise of the resurrection.

Yet this Easter I was reminded of what simple, yet powerful faith is all about. I preached today about the promise we have from God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I wanted to give those in church who had never accepted Christ as their Savior, a chance to confess their faith in the Lord and in their desire to live out the power of the resurrection. Two of those who raised their hands were mentally handicapped adults. I don’t even normally ask people to raise their hands, but I did today. I told them I wanted to see their faces and to pray for them specifically.

A simple, yet powerful faith is one that is trusting. It looks past those who might be watching and goes straight to the core of the issue. Without hesitation, those adults raised their hands. Their hearts and minds, I am convinced, have the freedom of a child. Nothing holds them back. They want to claim a saving faith in God. They don’t question it. They don’t limit it because of the other things they’ve faced in life. The just do it. The raise their hands and they are all in. And they want others to know.

From the very start, they stop and proclaim what God has done for them. Perhaps that is what has happened to us as tolerance has crept into our lives? We stopped proclaiming the promises of Easter daily, and we settle for a once a year remembrance on Easter alone and regardless of how you define it, faith should change us.

The promise of the resurrection begs us to understand this and to live it out everyday. Throw that tolerance to the wind – let that go – and embrace this year as a chance to live each day in power of the resurrection. Let yourself redefine faith like a child would. Don’t hold back. If you belong to God, then display that to your world. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be fearful. Don’t let the value this world places on faith, be your guide for living a life of true faith in God.

Everyday is an opportunity to live out the promise of the resurrection. We just have to choose to live a life of faith like this. Allow the first Easter to define for you how to live a life of dynamic faith and true hope. We serve a living God who didn’t sacrifice His life for lie. Everyday we live should be a celebration of our faith in the Lord and in the promise of the resurrection of Jesus.

easterverse copy

demands of the faith

“John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)

Do your actions and the way you demonstrate your faith in the Lord, beg from others – demand from others,  an explanation from you to them about your faith?

Radicalism is all around us. Some would argue that it doesn’t work. That being too radical can take away from the truth that you are trying to represent. However, what about balanced radicalism for Christ and for the Good News that Jesus saves?

Luke 3:16 calls to attention our demonstration of our faith in the Lord and how in which we are proclaiming the good news that Jesus saves. So what in your life – whether it is what you say or from the things that you do – radically demonstrates and displays your love for God and for others need to repent and believe?

Now for John the Baptist, he had to make sure those listening to him and those watching his actions knew he wasn’t Jesus. His lifestyle and his teaching did bring conviction – yet He wanted people to know of the greatness of God.

Jesus came so that we might experience God’s glory and His passion – that we might be redeemed and set free. It went beyond theory or philosophy as well. Jesus came so that people could have a real relationship with God – one that kills our old desires and motivates us to live a holy life.

May you live a life then that helps others see God and His glorious power more clearly. May you live in such in a way that your actions demand an explanation that will lead you to a place to point others to the power and grace of our loving Savior.

Simpleton

“The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.” (Proverbs 14:15)

In the New Living Translation, “simple believer” is changed to “only simpletons.” In the New American Standard Bible, “simple believer” changes to “naive believer.”

Simple. Simpleton. Naive. Probably not words one wants to describe themselves, right? Yet – do they describe you and your pursuit of the Lord? For when we start to believe anything and everything, then it shows us to be true simpletons, naive, without conviction about anything.

We live in a world of tolerance and more and more the church is being called to show its tolerance to many things that God’s standard, His conviction for Holy living opposes. Tolerance of such things is really only spiritual ignorance.

Having faith in God like a child does not mean we have to ignore or give up on living practical, holy lives. If we are consumed with a true faith in the Lord it will actually cause us to be more more careful as we seek out His will for each step we take in life.

Living a life of vibrant faith then is not an excuse to avoid planning, or preparing, etc. Rather, a life of vibrant faith should cause us to pray through things even more, with a clear focus on God and hearing from Him about His sovereign plan for your life.

We must guard our hearts from a lack of ability to distinguish between truth and error. We live in a world and at a time when each believer must live out a vibrant life of faith. And that my friends, is anything but simple or naive.

May you give much prayer and thought to each step, each conversation, each meeting you have this day.