Happy Easter!

1 Corinthians 15:19 “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”

In honor and celebration of Easter, I decided to type up my thoughts of this verse. On a Holiday all about celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a lot of people have doubts and even more have questions! I know I struggle with doubt. I mean how can our finite minds even begin to comprehend all that God is and all that Christ did for us. That’s why Christianity is so special- it really takes faith to believe it. It never promises to make our lives easy, in fact several verses tell us that as Christians our lives will be hard. For example, 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” This verse pretty plainly states that we shouldn’t be surprised when trials come our way- instead we should be glad that we are chosen to withstand those trials by God’s help. (side soap box, God DOES give you more than YOU can handle. If we could handle everything in life on our own, we wouldn’t need God. God never gives us more than HE can handle.)

The verse that I started with really put words to the feelings that I have toward hope in Christ. Just imagine, if the only thing we had was some imagined story about a guy that died on a cross and we put our hope in that- a story- we should be pitied. We should be pitied above all else because our hope would lie in the story, if the only reason for the Bible is to give us warm fuzzies in this life, it’s going to fail. That’s what that verse is saying. Thankfully for us, we have hope in Christ far beyond this life! Because this fully God, fully man Savior chose to follow God’s plan and take the entire sin of the world on his shoulders (from the first sin in the Garden of Eden to the last sin that hasn’t even happened yet) we have life far beyond this life. Jesus was the first fruit when he was resurrected. He was the first to die an earthly death and continue living. When we die, we will be resurrected with Christ and join him! Death for those truly called to salvation and fully dedicated to living out Christ’s commands is nothing but a doorway to life.

** For those of you reading this that don’t like Harry Potter, please skip over the next paragraph.

I hate to be the person to bring in a Harry Potter reference, but when I read the books and read J.K. Rowling’s description of the deathly hallows, one of them struck me as familiar. You see, I was raised with the possibility of death being very real. Even as a kid I couldn’t go to bed without telling my parents I loved them for fear I might not be able to when I woke up. As I’ve grown up though, I’ve come to see death differently. If you’re not familiar with the deathly hallows, the short recap is that there are these three objects that death gave to some wizards. One of the brothers got an invisibility cloak. This brother struck a cord with me because when his time came to die, he greeted death like an old friend. He wasn’t scared of death, he didn’t try to run from death (although the invisibility cloak did let him hide from death, so don’t read too much into this comparison). 🙂 As Christians, we should greet death like an old friend, because it is. Jesus is our friend. God is our father. Death on this Earth brings us back to them. Death from this earth, in God’s time, should be a beautiful celebration for finishing the race, for fighting the good fight.

This morning during Church, like most other church in the world, we talked about the crucifixion. Our Pastor has a way of putting things into perspective. Even though I’ve heard the verses time and time again, he is an excellent teacher and as such I come away with something new every time. This week, my nugget of wisdom was that God will not overlook our sins today because our sins nailed Jesus to the cross. Our sins made God turn away from his own son. Is that powerful or what?? God detests sin. He can’t be in the presence of sin. He is so holy, that he literally can’t.  When Jesus took our sins on himself as he was hanging on the cross, he became sin. In that moment, all of our sin was atoned with his death. And yet in that moment, although Jesus asked why God had forsaken him, he knew that that God’s plan was holy. His final words “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46) and “It is finished” (John 19:30) show that He continued to trust God. He continued to follow through the with the salvation plan. How can we compare our struggles and our pain to that of Jesus. He was murdered because of my pride, because of my sin.

Even though our struggles pale in comparison to what Jesus had to go through for us, God still cares for us! Luke 12:24 tells us to “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” 1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

No, our life is not promised to be easy, to be full of money or possessions, but we are promised to be full. Full of love, full of life, full of joy. This Easter, remember that because Jesus chose to love us and to die for us, we have hope! We have a future!

Now, if someone gave you a chance at life when all you had in front of you was death, wouldn’t you want to honor them? Jesus’ death did not give us freedom to sin, it gave us freedom from sin. Jesus’ death gave us freedom to live in him. To live this life by honoring what he did for us. Romans 6:1-4 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

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