Friday, March 29, 2013

What Easter REALLY Looks Like

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. (Romans 4:7-8).
I recently finished reading through the book of Romans. It took me a couple of months because I decided to read it s l o w l y and in-depth. At or around Romans chapters 7 and 8 my brain started to leak out through my ears. Heavy stuff. Truly awe-inspiring, heavy stuff. In fact, now that I am through with Romans, I think I might have to start reading it again, because it contains more information than this here brain can absorb. At this rate I will understand the book of Romans in the year 2034, and then maybe I will move on to Thessalonians or Colossians. However, I am going to try to avoid the book of Revelation for as long as possible. Maybe it will have all come true by the time I start reading it?
All joking aside, a few years ago I came to the startling realization that my Biblical knowledge was quite lacking, especially for a girl who was church-grown and bred, and I took steps to remedy the situation.  For a large part of my life much of my belief was based on what I was told, and surely all I was told was not incorrect, thought some of it was. But it doesn't matter much to believe something without going to the source of that belief, does it?
I recently watched the movie Argo with my husband, and we both thought it was a great movie. But then I ruined it by googling the actual, you know, facts.
The movie contained some of the basic elements of the true story but had put a twist on them, left some important parts out, or embellished the facts in order to, of course, make an easier to watch, easier to follow, and more emotionally- gripping movie.
(I have an annoying habit of wanting to know the real story behind just about anything. That is why I spent an entire week after watching Secretariat reading novels about famous racing horses, watching biographies about famous racing horses, and scouring the internet for videos of famous horse races. I became, for one week during the winter of 2011, a horse-racing expert.)
(It is a strange compulsion, but it is this very compulsion that led me to, finally, after many years of "doing church," want to figure out the facts. So to speak.)
So after watching Argo, and then finding out more about the true story behind the film, I bounced into bed that evening and exclaimed to Joe, "I figured it out! We've Argoed the Bible!"
And he said, "Huh?" and he rolled over and went to sleep.
But I couldn't sleep because I knew that I was on to something. At the very least, I am able to give a visual of what I see happening to the Bible. What some churches do to the Bible, what some Christian bloggers do to the Bible, what our sometimes well-meaning pastors, friends, teachers, spiritual advisors, priests, counselors or Christian authors can do to and with the Bible. What I can do to the Bible, if I am not careful.
We Argo it. 

Thinking it can't stand on its own feet, we embellish, twist, leave out facts in order not to offend. We want the Bible to be more palatable, we want it to be easier to understand. We want it to be emotionally gripping and we want to make it fit our purposes, instead of the other way around.
That is what I am thinking about this Easter. About the ways in which we have mangled the Gospel and made it look like but a shell of itself. We forget, or maybe we never truly understood, that the Bible isn't a story about us, it is a story about God and His plan for the redemption of mankind. 

We want to take the Son of God, who came to Earth wrapped in the flesh of a human yet never, ever sinned and portray him as simply an avenger of social justice, a really nice guy who wanted to do good things rather than convict men of sin and lead them to repentance. We say that the world would love Jesus if they could just get to know Him, but we forget that Jesus himself said he was hated by the world. He was rejected by it and killed by it. He was mocked and spat on. The world did know Him, and they hated him.
 We point our fingers in disgust at the Biblical pharisees and fail to see that we are the pharisees, haters of God, constantly writing our own versions of righteousness and attempting to live them out. Never mind that Jesus makes it clear that there is no righteousness apart from him.
Jesus drew hard lines, but we don't like hard lines, so we re-draw them. Yet Jesus said You are either with me or you are my enemy. There is no in-between, not with God. We are not just silent observers, we are not sideline cheerleaders, we are not thoughtful onlookers or innocent passers-by to what God is doing. Our sin is weighty and big. In fact, the Bible says that because of it we deserve death. Oh, and not just death, but God's wrath. But we prefer to gloss over sin, maybe even leave it out of our Bible teaching and churches, because it makes us feel bad. Who wants to be a sinner condemned to spiritual eternal death? Not me!
 The hard line is this: my righteousness comes from Christ, not of my own doing. My sin is real and it is big, and it trumps any good thing I might do. My heart is decietful and wicked above all else, but Jesus' sacrifice was enough to satisfy God's wrath against me and make me an heir to His incredible grace and righteousness!

I wasn't enough.
HE was enough.

The world does a pretty good job sometimes of looking "good." It doesn't need us for that.  But The Gospel has never been about looking good. It is about our hearts bowing in repentance and faith to our Savior. (Though out of our gratefulness for His salvation we spill out and overflow into the world, making Him known with words and deeds.)
So may our Easter not look like the world's Easter, an Easter that contains lots of rules but little hope. May our Gospel not be an Argo gospel: just a really neat story that only mimics the true story. The true story is much, much better. It is a story that saves.

 May we not worry about better ratings and critic's choice awards, but may we be faithful to the God of the Bible who does not change like shifting shadows or bend with the whims of current culture. His Truth is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Beginning and the End and He wants to bring Glory to Himself by saving sinners.
Sinners like me. Sinners like you.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

So that we, in repentance and faith in Jesus, may be called His friend.

And that is what Easter REALLY looks like.

*(John 15:18, Ephesians 2, Romans 3:21-26, Jeremiah 17:9, Matt 12:30, James 1:17,Revelation 22:13)

1 comment:

Lauren said...

I'm a little late on this but this is GOOD!!!!!!!! :)

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