Lent, Holy Week and Easter are far less jovial than Christmas because the sacrifice, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ are far more serious.
Attaining the “Christmas Spirit” can be as simple as sharing gifts or offering a charitable good deed. Easter …oh my, Easter insists we ask ourselves what we actually believe. Easter shucks the shiny veneer off lighthearted, semi-serious Christianity.
I’ve seen and heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ presented and preached several different ways – with sin, guilt, shame, fear and threats; with works and prosperity. With legalistic biblical nonsense, suspect prophecy, reckless abandon of biblical truth and reckless abandonment of God’s infinite grace. I’ve heard shysters conflate the Old Testament with the New, suggesting one continuous covenant. I’ve heard liars preach that God’s Word must be adjusted to agree with modern society’s appetites.
I gravitate toward preaching that lifts up biblical truth, exposes worldly falsehoods, and focuses on Jesus’s command to love God and others. I truly believe in – but don’t worship – the Bible, the Cross, the Church, the Communion of Saints, and the reality of heaven. I don’t worship people or things; I worship Jesus Christ because that glorifies God. Worshipping anything else is idolatry.
Good preaching plays it straight when it comes to Easter:
– God’s love is real and His glory enormous.
– Jesus’ sacrifice – also real and enormous – forgives sin but more importantly restores humanity’s communion with God’s Kingdom.
– The multiple mysteries of the Resurrection, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the glory of everlasting life and God’s love are the most holy things we can contemplate.
– Jesus commands “Follow me” not in man’s temporal sense of self-interest but in His own divine grace of self-denial (Mark 8:34).
That’s our truth.
Jesus Christ divides history, into “before” and “after”; He does not divide God, God’s Kingdom or God’s Creation. While the cross is the symbol of God’s loving, saving covenant with humanity, Jesus actually is that covenant.
The good movie currently out, “Do You Believe” provides a remarkably poignant, smart, emotional, helpful and I believe correct multi-dimensional experience of the many shades of today’s worldly life and Christian challenges. Do what you want with the preaching text of the movie, but when it comes to God’s hand, our faith, and the world’s mosaic of treachery and truth, danger and beauty, and emptiness and fullness, I bet you’ll recognize yourself somewhere in this story.
‘Tis the season to ask, “Do You Believe?”
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) for years has had “Romans 8:28” as his cell phone banner. Read the verse, see the movie, you’ll understand. BTW, the actor who once played “Rudy” says, in this movie, “There are no miracles.” How ironic.