Lighten Up: It’s Easter!
Sat, 07 Apr 2012 - 3:09 PM CST
Aside from the chocolate bunnies, I dread Easter sometimes. The family gathering, the extended weekend free of homework and the egg hunts are fun traditions, but they don't address the emotional turmoil I feel.
I know for certain I don't grasp the full weight of Christ's death, His forgiveness and His resurrection. To make up for my lack of knowledge, I make sure that I feel plenty guilty. If I make a mistake, I immediately count it up to my sinful nature. I make it a point to think of myself at a lower status than other Christians. At church, I berate myself for those brief minutes during the day when I didn't feel the appropriate amount of guilt. This sounds ludicrous even as I write it, but this is done in desperation. After all, Christ died for me. How can I take it lightly?
This is a disservice to myself even more than my lack of understanding. Feeling guilty doesn't make Jesus' sacrifice any more fair. In fact, my guilt is an attempt to nullify the miracle. By trying to feel guilty enough, I am claiming that God's sacrifice isn't enough and that I need to give an emotional payment for my sin.
If I'm not feeling guilty, I'm trying to be serious. I somberly attend church and entertain deep, philosophical discussions with fellow Christians. This is Holy Week, and I must act properly, but, as a friend told me, seriousness is not a gift of the Spirit. Remember God's mercy shown to Rahab, the mud on blind men's eyes, the baptism by the hippie-like John, the healing of demon-possessed people and, most of all, Jesus' death on a criminal's cross. A God who loves like that is not worried about being proper. In fact, God continually broke social norms and laws of propriety throughout the Bible, and He continues to do so today. Being serious or proper does not improve my lowly state; it does nothing to make me more deserving of Jesus' gift. By limiting myself like this, I'm playing the role of a blind man who doesn't want to be healed simply because mud isn't clean.
I am right when I admit I have little understanding of the miracle of Easter, but that is no reason to try to earn salvation for myself through guilt or a religious attitude. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast" (NIV). Later, in 1 Peter 1:9, the Bible says that we are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy because we receive the salvation of our souls. I don't need to dress myself up in guilt or wear the mask of seriousness, but I can rest in God's love, being grateful and joyful in His free gift of salvation.