The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen…”—–Matthew 28:5-6
Every year Easter brings both Christians and Non-Christians alike to reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection. For Christians, Easter is a time of great joy as we celebrate the sacrifice Jesus made in atoning for our sins and rising again that we might have eternal life. For Non-Christians, Easter is a time of bunnies, chocolate, and Easter egg hunts. Nevertheless, Easter causes us all to pause and think about what we believe about Jesus one way or another.
Every year, I tend to be very conflicted about Easter. On one hand Easter is the continuing reminder of the joy we have in Jesus and the hopeful expectation of celebrating with other believers, both new and old. On the other hand I am reminded of the enormous effort on the part of churches for productions and events with the hopes that the multitudes that go to church only a few times a year will happen to become part of their churches.
To be honest, I don’t quite know what to make of everything. Has Easter turned into something it shouldn’t be?? Possibly. Just like Christmas can get overshadowed by trees, lights, and presents, the same can be said about Easter. But what about our churches?? Does Easter get overshadowed by all our efforts, resources, and time when the true heart of reflecting on a new life in Christ is possibly missed or misunderstood??
I say all of this, not looking to be a “Negative Nancy”, but rather to share my true thoughts and struggles that I encountered this past week. I earnestly prayed that people would hear the Gospel and come to the Lord in true repentance and confession that Jesus is the only way, but every year I am left skeptical by the massive numbers our churches, pastors, and leaders throw out with how many people have come to faith in Jesus. The reason for my skepticism is not that I don’t think there are some that actually do put their faith in Jesus when they truly hear the Gospel preached, but for most it is easy for them to say they put their faith in Jesus because, really, who wouldn’t want to believe in a Savior who died on the cross for their sins and gives them eternal life??
But let’s be realistic. Does the Gospel which is preached really cause those that hear to count the cost of following Jesus by putting their old life behind for a new life in Christ?? Can the Gospel which is preached be embraced even without all the “show”?? If nothing is left, is Jesus really enough??
Maybe, just maybe, the bigger problem isn’t just with times like Easter. Maybe the problem is with how churches cater to the so-called “felt needs” of people and the results are the numbers of people causing church growth. Simply it is churches giving the people what they want and people looking for churches which are giving them what they think they need. It appears that it is a win-win situation for both churches and people because they both get what they are looking for. But can’t this be confused as successful ministry??
Granted, every follower of Jesus wants to see massive numbers of people coming to Christ. It would be ridiculous of anyone to say different. But wouldn’t it be more advantageous for all our efforts, resources, and time to see Easter not as the Christian “Super Bowl”, but just another time in which we look to share the Gospel?? What if our intent in sharing the Gospel was a means pointing people to Jesus, but leaving the results to the Lord?? What if we also sought to eliminate any and all obstacles that may hinder or confuse people from knowing what it truly means to follower and have faith in Jesus??
This past Easter, we gathered to praise the Lord for His sacrifice and the hope we have in Him. We rejoice with all those that for the first time have trusted in Jesus for salvation. But let’s not let our focus on Jesus and sharing our faith begin and end only on days like Easter, but let’s encourage and challenge one another to make it a lifestyle of walking with the Lord daily and sharing the news of this great life with those we encounter everyday. Praise be to God for His great compassion and love!!