(CSN) On April 1, we celebrated Easter, a holiday for Christian believers. This day is full of diverse opinions, emotions and thoughts. My family and I honour this important feast, a holiday I have immeasurable regard for.
Easter is seeing through the eyes of Jesus. It's salvation and transformation for all people who choose to embrace the cross. It is a time when our lives can experience our own resurrection, putting the old behind and begin walking in a new encouraging direction.
As I reflected, I began considering the pain and anguish Christ had to endure on the cross for mankind. His sacrifice proves He truly loved us. I can't fathom how He endured the punishment He received. It testifies to me pure and absolute love for mankind. Why else would anyone bear this kind of torture and cruelty? You would have to be senseless and irrational.
His love for us replaced and transcended the flogging and chastisement.
Due to the sheer boredom recovering from a round of chemo treatments, I have attempted to watch television, which at times has frustrated me, especially when secular media outlets and secular entertainers talk about Christianity. There's nothing like the Christmas and Easter seasons to make every secular commentator an expert in matters of faith.
It is frustrating, not because they ask the hard questions, but because they always seem to draw the wrong conclusions. They must comment, "Look at all the evil and suffering in the world. Where is God in all of this? Why does he allow it? God is awful, merciless? If your God is so good and so powerful, then what is he doing about it? Why is He not healing you? "The blame game begins. They leave the question hanging there as if there is no possible answer and then dismiss the Christian faith as irrelevant.
What it reveals is, most people completely and wholly misunderstand the Christian faith. They miss the whole point of who Jesus is and what He accomplished. Because they do not begin with the true spiritual condition of the world, they cannot understand what God is doing about it. The simple truth is we live in a fallen world. Despite the goodness of creation and its evident beauty, it is full of evil, sickness, suffering, and death. Is that hard to see? Look at the headlines: war, terrorism, beheadings, pestilence, poverty, rape, murder, starvation, economic collapse, an attack on women sexually and for attempting to attain higher education.
And the heart breaking truth is that everything and everyone that we know and love is passing away. In the end, death swallows up everything; the world becomes an immense graveyard! In a few short years who will even remember that we lived?
It may be tempting to blame God for all of this, but the truth is this was not His doing. The Sacred Scriptures are firm that all that He made is good....and humanity, the summit of His creation, was made for the highest dignity imaginable; eternal happiness in union with Him forever! The truth is God made us free by giving us free choice and we abused that freedom. Every day, we tend consciously and unconsciously take advantage of it. It resulted in the fall of mankind from communion with God.
The consequences of the separation, and the plunge were, and continue to be, disastrous. Our communion with God was shattered and crushed. Our human nature was deeply wounded and the dark one invaded and rules our world. Without God's involvement, the destiny of fallen man was the unimaginable eternal loss of God; a life in hell. This unappealing picture, and no doubt some would accuse me of being overly negative, but it is what God himself has revealed as the true condition of the world. And unless we understand this and face it honestly, we will never understand or properly appreciate God's inexpressibly merciful and compassionate response.
God sent Jesus in the form of a child, in the flesh, and thus we celebrate Christmas. Jesus grew up to be brutally tortured, suffered agonizing pain to take on the penalty of our sins so that we could be re- united and reconciled with our loving Father. That is what Good Friday is all about.
The Scriptures tell us, Jesus rose from death that we might one day rise again with him. That is the essence of what Easter Sunday is all about.
From the right hand of the Father he reigns forever and sends upon us the power of His Holy Spirit that we might even now experience a foretaste of what is promised and power to continue his mission. And the Holy Spirit is with us until the end of the world, forgiving us, healing us, and empowering us to bring God's merciful Kingdom to every person in this world.
What the secular commentators who dismiss Christianity do not understand is that Jesus is God's answer to a fallen world. He was God's rescue operation. He is the lifeboat that God has sent into the world to save a drowning humanity after the ship has sunk. And the good news is, His life boat has room for everyone! Jesus taught to love your neighbour as you love yourself. He encouraged us to live in peace, to be generous with the poor, to visit the needy, the prisons, look after the sick, reach out to strangers and feed the hungry. Imagine a world applying His teachings? It would look so different than what we see in this very hour.
Many wonder, why does He still allow the suffering, the wars, the pain , sin and death He could ultimately destroy? Why did God not choose to put an end to all evil all at once? This world, is an enemy occupied world. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed in disguise and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of disruption against the dark one, who has caused all the suffering and brokenness in the world.
C.S. Lewis the famous atheist - turned Christian, answers the question very well, better than I could attempt to answer. .
"Why is God landing in this enemy-occupied world in disguise and starting a sort of secret society to undermine the devil? Why is he not landing in force, invading it? Is it that he is not strong enough? Well, Christians think he is going to land in force; we do not know when. But we can guess why he is delaying. He wants to give us the chance of joining his side freely. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world, quite realise what it will be like when he does. When that happens, it is the end. When the author walks on stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right; but what is the good of saying you are on his side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else - something it never entered your head to conceive-comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not."
As Christians, we believe there will come a day when all of mankind will be judged. But thankfully, He has given us a time of mercy first, a time to accept it ourselves and to extend it to as many as we can. .
Unfortunately, regrettably, we live in a fallen world filled with disappointments, heartaches, disasters, war, suffering evil and death. It is sad when people don't understand how God has responded to our hopeless condition; but the greatest tragedy of all of this is rejecting what Jesus taught, His teachings would end the cycle of hate, evil, and suffering.
The world is on edge with daily turmoil, terrorism, natural disasters, crime, disease, and economic collapse. Where is God in all of this? This may not sound popular; however it is the truth. God is in the manger, on the cross and God especially resides in our hearts. God is a gentleman; He will not force Himself in. He created free will therefore He waits for the invite to come in. Give God permission to come in and he will prove His love to you.
In my opinion, Jesus is the true merciful King who is invading, saving ,healing, reconciling, forgiving and empowering anyone who will open their hearts to Him. I searched my whole life for the true God and I knew I had found Him when I observed the assault, aggression and harassment Christianity receives. I have never witnessed a continued strike on other religions like I have witnessed against Christianity. I have never seen other religious gods criticized or used in profane language. The facts are that, the Christian religion has been the most persecuted religion from the beginning of its conception.
I had to conclude, the devil must be threatened by Christianity, because Jesus is the true King and his true powerful opposition. It only makes sense why throughout history he has never stopped to annihilate and wipe out the name of Jesus.
Celebrate Easter with a new awakening. Jesus lives! He is our most loyal companion and protector in life. Jesus is love and love would heal our world and eradicate evil. Easter represents love, mercy and true freedom.
Jesus is knocking, and it is your decision to allow him in. He leads us from discouragement to hope, peace and ultimate freedom..