The 2015 Easter celebrations are less than a week old and I wonder, does anything about it stick out in your mind? Did you do anything different this year to make it more meaningful for you or someone else? Did you invite someone to church? Were they more excited about the Easter egg hunt offered by your church or the possibility of hearing a message of salvation? Did you talk with anyone about salvation? Did you talk with anyone about the cost Jesus paid for the salvation or the cost He may ask you to pay? What will you remember about Easter 2015?
Many hope that they can use church celebrations as a means to share Jesus with others. Often when the activity ends, many reflect and comfort themselves with the thought that the opportunity to share did not seem to come and so they can use the next activity to reach out. Maybe they have never really thought about what God expects of them. Maybe they don’t realize that it is not easy to be a follower of Christ especially if we are to do it the way He desires; with intention, courage and with His help. On several occasions Jesus reminded His followers that a life focused on Him would be difficult. His message was contrary to the one people wanted to hear and so they would not be very receptive. He said followers would face persecution. One day, extremists may take them from their homes, line them up on a beach and kill them for no reason other than the fact they believed in Him. He foretold that their homes would be burnt, jobs lost, businesses destroyed and lives seemingly ruined because they chose to follow Him. He suggested that one day, they would be confronted by someone wanting to know if they were Christians and if they claimed Him, they would be murdered along with 149 of their friends. He suggested, they would be mocked in their workplace or homes because of what they believed. Jesus stated that followers truly don’t know the cost of saying they would follow Him. He alluded to the idea that followers expect a happier life, their problems solved and relationships healed when in fact He said that if they wanted to be His follower they would need to take up the cross. We know what happened to Him before He was placed on the cross and then what happened as He hung there. It was neither pleasant or easy.
In this anything-goes world the Easter message is difficult to share. Many have watered down the message misrepresenting the meaning behind God’s love that takes Jesus to the cross. The story about the garden, the birth in a manger, the earthly ministry, the undeserved brutalization and the humiliation on the cross was all about saving us from our sinful nature so that we could have eternity with God. We know the story did not end in the tomb. Belief in Jesus leaves no room for followers to say that He is a way to the Father. When Jesus rose from the tomb He declared to the world, I am the WAY to the Father. Some followers may need to come to grips with whether they believe that to be true because that is the message that leads to true persecution.
Pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When God bids a man He bids him ‘come and die for me’. Maybe we need to step up our game and let our beliefs lead our way and die to the things that are keeping us from talking about our beliefs. Maybe we need to ask ourselves what Jesus really wants from us. Maybe we need to realize that God doesn’t want us to change all our careers, He merely wants us to change our professions. Where once we professed to be soldiers or clerks who happen to be Christians we now need to profess to be Christians who happen to be soldiers or clerks.
Pray God uses you to share the truth that Jesus is not a way to God but that He is THE only way to Him.