Another Spring. Another Easter holiday. Maybe you've celebrated somehow with eggs, candy, and pictures with a bunny. Maybe you've bought a new dress or tie for the upcoming weekend church service and family photo. Maybe you've read a Holy Week devotion or watched a video version online. Maybe you've done none of these things and don't intend to. Maybe you dread the thought of begrudgingly showing up to a service that doesn't really mean anything to you, just to get someone off your back about the whole church thing. Maybe it's relieving to checking the church box this Sunday so that you don't have to check it again until this time next year.
How easy it is to fall into one of these two categories: stoked about celebrations, pictures, and pretty new dresses, or: putting on the Christian mask and going through the motions for Easter becasue that's just what you're supposed to do. You may feel either really excited for church this weekend for some (let's be honest here) very superficial reasons. Because if its's about you and what you wear and how perfect your family photos are, well- you can dress up and do that any day of the year. Or if you're dragging your feet until about noon on Sunday when the excitement of "man, that's over for another year!" Sets in and you can breathe easy again.... I would dare to say we have greatly missed the mark and sadly, we have missed the Savior. The victorious, reigning, resurrected Savior.
To be transparent with you, I've been in both of those categories before. I've been the one to be excited to show up and show off a new addition to the wardrobe on Easter Sunday, while giving very little thought or thankfulness for the reason I was supposed to be celebrating. I have also been the one in a hurry to get Easter over and done because it was really just interrupting more seemingly important things I would rather have been doing at the time. And looking back, I can clearly see now what was at the root of both of those heart conditions: forgetfulness. Forgetfulness. I had completely and utterly forgotten both who and what Easter is about. Because it isn't about me- or you either, friend. It isn't about how good we can look or how fake we can smile. It isn't about showing up and checking a box to make ourselves feel like good people because we made an appearance at church on a holiday. It isn't about celebrating something on Sunday that we don't live out on Monday. It isn't about worshiping a risen Savior this Sunday but living in darkness and defeat the rest of the week. It isn't about the eggs and the bunny and the pretty colors and the baskets we give our kids to make us feel like we're as good as the other parents we have to keep up with.... I could go on and on. We have thing after thing and idol after idol and excuse after excuse for what is ultimately a lack of remembrance, gratitude, and authenticity before a holy, living, just God who is worthy of so much more than this.
I'm writing this to remind us, friends. I need reminding. You need reminding. The world is a hard, busy place that bombards us with so many reasons to forget what we are here for and Who we are here for. To forget, however, is less a memory problem and more of a moral problem. We remember important dates and hurtful words spoken against us and lots of useless information, (if you're like me, anyway) but seem to have a hard time remembering our why. Why we celebrate Easter. Why we go to church. Why we should be excited. Why we shouldn't care what we wear or who sees us or about all the superficial, commercialized things that we've been conditioned to believe are important. Here's the secret friends: Jesus. Is. Alive.
Yeah, I know. We know that. We've heard that and sung that and read that. We know He died on the cross and rose 3 days later. We know the stone was rolled away. We know that His body wasn't in the tomb when His followers went in to see His body. We know that He defeated death, hell, and sin. We know that He loves us. We know that He is good. Or at least we say we know these things. We know these things in our head. We know what we've heard and been told and we repeat them as if they're true, but yet we forget. We forget that He DID die on the cross and He DID rise 3 days late and the stone WAS rolled away and His body was NOT there and He DID defeat death, hell and sin and He DOES love us and He IS good and ALL of that matters right now, today, this very second. And every second of every other day too. Because all of our yesterdays and all of our tomorrows would look very, very different if He was not alive and had not done these things, all on our behalf and in our place.
What we repeat with our lips and know in our minds has got to, at some point in our lives, penetrate our hearts and invade every aspect of our lives. We cannot be satisfied with head knowledge of Jesus on 363 days a year and expect to have radically different, changed lives because we grace the church with our presence on Easter and Christmas. We cannot be satisfied with head knowledge of a victorious Savior but accept defeat in our war with the enemy. We cannot be satisfied with head knowledge of a living, personal Savior but continue to walk in shame believing we are not capable of being loved. We cannot be satisfied with this going-through-the-motions-halfhearted-apathetic-onlywhenitisconvenientforus-singingsongsbutlongingforlunch- kind of life offered to a holy, worthy God who also calls us to be holy and who says we also are worthy. We forget what Easter is all about because we don't access the power that comes from a living God daily in our walk with with Him. We have been given authority, power, and permission to approach His throne, bring our requests, and worhsip Him freely for all eternity- which has already begun, I might add.
We need resurrection reminders because we have forgotten. We have forgotten all that Jesus has done for us. We have lived a lot of life on spiritual autopilot- going through the motions and showing up to do what we know Christians should do, but without experiencing the radical transformation that He can do when we remember- and surrender. Forgetfulness always leads to idolatry. Always. When we forget what Jesus has done for us and what that means for our everyday lives, relationships, decisions, plans... we replace Him with something that we do remember. Something familiar. We trade in worship of the King for something that has not and cannot fill us up, all or the sake of comfort and familiarity. We may not be bowing down to a golden calf like Isreal did in the wilderness, but we have idols on the thrones of our hearts that look like money, power, control, identity crises, busyness... I could go on and on. We swap in substitutes for our Savior that make us feel better about the way we live because we refuse to surrender to the power that His resurrection bought for us.
Today is Good Friday, and it is good even though it didn't look good, feel good, or seem good while it was happening all those years ago. When Jesus was beaten, it wasn't good- but it was for us. When Jesus wore the crown of thorns, it wasn't good- but it was for us. When Jesus was pierced with nails and placed on a cross, it wasn't good- but it was for us. We He hung and He bled and He pleaded with God to see if there was any other way, it wasn't good- but it was for us. When He breathed His final agonizing breath while hanging there between two criminals, it wasn't good- but it was for us. Our Savior, fully God and fully human, in unimaginable pain and mental torment- could look past the cross and see you and I here today and knew the relationship He longed to have with each of us. And for that, He said it was good. He said it was worth it. He said He would do it to satisfy the wrath of God so that we didn't have to. He said He would take that place and die that death so that we didn't have to.
And that kind of love is not only accessible today, or on Easter Sunday. It is a 24/7/365 kind of earth-shattering, mountain-moving, gates-of-hell-will-not-prevail kind of love that King Jesus offers you and I every second of our lives. He did it all for us. He looked beyond His own desires and comfort so that we may know Him- really, authentically, personally know Him- so much more than a head knowledge kind of knowing Him. And that is the king of King we get to celebrate this weekend. We get to sing to a God who is alive and well and ruling and reigning despite how chaotic and out of control this world may seem. We get to sing to a God that is always moving and working on our behalf, even in the midst of our darkest days and hardest times. We get to sing to a God that uses all fear, heartache, and hurt with purpose for our good and His glory. We get to live in relationship with this living God. He is not dead and He is not distant- He is alive and present.
We cannot afford to forget any longer. There is so much to be done this side of heaven that requires our surrendered lives and obedient hearts to seek, serve, and savor the Savior who paid it all.
Remembrance is demonstrated in obedience. When we forget, we idolize something that cannot and will not have eternal significance. When we remember, we obey the will of Jesus who set us free that we might live our lives in light of all that He has done for us. My hope for us all is that we will remember, and not just for Easter. That yes, we will gathe this Sunday and authentically worship Jesus as we remember that He did carry the cross, die and rise again. But that it didn't stop there. We must remember that He is our hope, peace, and strength when we have none of our own. He is our rock when we're sinking and He is the firm foundation we can build our lives on without fear. He is for us and with us and He too asks us this Easter to remember His resurrection and the power He won for us.
Life, death, and everything in between have purpose because of all the Jesus has done.
May we remember. May we not miss the Savior. May we honor Him well for all our days.