A blessed Eastertide to you and yours! In the traditional Christian church calendar, this is not just one day, but an entire season for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, beginning with Easter Sunday and it lasting for the fifty days until Pentecost Sunday. This year, we really need the whole fifty days!
As I write this, we are all still engaged in a worldwide fight against the terrible Coronavirus. No one could have guessed the way this year would unfold. Innumerable people are going through incredibly difficult circumstances, and all of us have been impacted by measures to fight the spread of illness. It has been interesting and thought-provoking to celebrate the glorious resurrection of our Lord juxtaposed with such fear and unknowing in the face of a pandemic.
It has been especially fascinating to read the many social media posts and news articles about how people are weathering the lockdown period. Though no one wants this strange pause in life to go on indefinitely, more than a few people are realizing that the break-neck speed at which life in pre-Coronavirus 2020 was going was not particularly healthy. With weeks now to unwind, many people are connected with their families like never before. Kids are learning to play and use their imaginations again. People are getting enough sleep.
Sadly, this is not the case in every home. Other news articles point out that there has been a sharp increase in domestic violence, in anxiety, and in pornography consumption, just to name a few things. Being home all the time is not easy or pleasant for everyone. It seems that the angry just get angrier, and the selfish become even more indulgent. Many people are acting entirely out of fear - fear of losing income with no hope to get it back, fear of illness for themselves or a loved one, and especially fear of death itself. Faced with a virus no one really understands yet, this last fear is seizing multitudes.
Some might wonder if there might be a way we could take each individual person to a beautiful retreat center, maybe somewhere in the mountains, to refresh and relax. Imagine if this place was large enough that everyone could spread out and have plenty of space to himself. Here, each one would have all the food he needs, and none of the wicked temptations of the modern era like drugs or pornography; in fact, this place would be completely unplugged. The library would be filled with only the best uplifting and informative literature of the ages, and the music selection would be calming and peaceful. Everywhere each person goes, they would find green pastures, fruit trees with every kind of fruit, and crystal clear steams flowing. Surely, if we could create a place like this, everyone could finally find peace and harmony?
But, here is the problem - There is only one place like that, and the way to it is blocked by cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth. We are not allowed to go back into Eden, into that beautiful and abundant place where peace truly existed and where God Himself came down to walk with man in the cool of the day. Nor can we ever re-create such a place on our own.
Our wicked and crafty enemy was not entirely lying to Adam and Eve when he said they would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit. In fact, they did not drop over or cease to exist when they took a bite - what happened to them was far worse than that. The true death that occurred, and which God had warned them about, was that we became infused with sin (aka total selfishness) that we cannot get rid of by ourselves, and which results in a horrible, eternal separation from God and enmity with one another. No amount of education, medicine, money, technology, or laws can fix this problem of sin.
The virus that is currently sweeping the earth reminds us all of this universal human condition. While it has been amazing to watch the world rally together in real time to fight the physical illness and to find a cure and vaccine for this particular strain of virus, something unimaginable even fifty years ago, we remain hopeless to save ourselves from sin and from true death. Doctors are learning every day how to combat Covid19, but selfishness remains. Most of the time, we can ignore the fact that our sin separates us from God, but not right now. When faced with this problem, just about everyone would love to know what to do.
Listen to an interesting thought from Dorothy Sayers, writing at the outbreak of the Second World War....
"War (we could say pandemic) is the breaking up of security and habit, and the letting in of energy upon the things hat had become static and corrupt. The great obstacle, in times of peace and prosperity, to improvement in the social order is the inertia that society presents to any kind of change. The reformer spends nine tenths of his energy in endeavoring to make his voice heard above the snoring of well-cushioned indolence, to smash his way into the closed circle of vested interests, to disturb complacency and generally to overcome the disposition of his hearers to let sleeping dogs lie.
But war does this part of his task for him. All the dogs are up and barking very loudly, and nobody can possibly pretend to ignore them. The world is startled awake, complacency is destroyed, and even the vested interests are rocking uneasily on their foundations. His chief difficulty now will be to catch the distracted attention of agitated people and get it focused on what he has to say."
And we do have something to say!
Here is the Good News - Jesus came to save us from our sin! There is real hope and real help. John the Baptist heralded Him, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" Jesus does not just hide our sin or cover it - He takes it away. Through His work on the cross, we can be free from the deadliest virus of all - sin. In Christ, we can have peace with God, and with one another.
The Bible is clear that God has made a way for us to be with Him again, and that Jesus willingly laid down His own life for all of us. Remember the beautiful passage of John chapter 11, in which Jesus shows His power over death by raising Lazarus from the dead and proclaims...
I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
As Christians, we have an amazing opportunity this Easter season to share this great news with people who truly might be ready to listen. In times past, we may have found it difficult to begin the conversation to share our faith with family, friends and neighbors for any number of reasons. But everything that the world offers as stability is now shaken - and it remains true that the only sure foundation to stand on is Christ, and the only way men can be reconciled to one another is through Him. The conversation is started! Speak freely and share that in Christ, we can have not only the blessed assurance of forgiveness of sin, but also His peace and steadiness to see us through any storm.
May the love and peace of God fill your heart and home today. Let's be generous with this good news and freely share the living hope that we have in Jesus.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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