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.