Only God could plan, execute, and pull off a weekend like this. Turn a very bad Friday into a one of a kind Good Friday crescendo-ing into a Resurrection Sunday. Unbelievable! “Didn’t see it coming, sort of hoped, but never happened before, a dead man rising!” But He did! He was seen by more than 500 people! Changed the world!
So many struggle with God. Even more brush him aside as fiction. Someone wrote in Facebook this week, “Every religion is a cult.” I wanted to respond but wasn’t sure I’d be heard, more likely swatted away like a nuisance mosquito. One has to ask the question, “What do we think God is like and where does that information come from?” The weekend from Good Friday to Easter Sunday is the key to the question.
Usually struggles with God, or outright rejections, are based on perceptions resulting from harsh judgments, representations of a God who’s angry, a strict disciplinarian, always watching out for failure, someone we can never please or live up to. Arguments about how to live. Actions done in the name of God that have persecuted, oppressed, justified obvious injustice, and demeaned the weak and poor. A God who allows suffering, does nothing about the chaos in this world, and often, “Didn’t answer my cries when I asked for help.” It’s easy not to trust, believe, or be interested in a God who’s distant, stern, cold, obsessed with rules and good behavior.
To make matters worse in our pluralistic world. One God seems narrow, stifling, conservative, and… who are you to say there are not many ways to be spiritual? How do we respond with respect? It’s quite true that many expressions of Christianity have fallen far short of the love and grace of Jesus. Many people have found some degree of fulfillment and comfort in other expressions of spiritual encounter.
If we attempt to answer these legitimate struggles and questions from human history and what we can logically comprehend, we’ll never find a way. Bottom line, our worldview is usually the significant lens through which we see and interpret the world and even the supernatural. C.S. Lewis described the philosophical approach of interpreting the world from our human vantage point as a closed world system. In other words all meaning is derived from how we perceive and understand life, and even God or gods. The rational conclusion is that there’s no ‘one truth’, to each their own. There are many ways and many truths; live and let live. From this vantage point how can there be a God who loves?
The other worldview Lewis describes suggests that if in fact there is a God, Creator of the Universe, above all other gods, He’d probably communicate with us to help us understand who He is. That would require Him breaking into our ‘closed world’ with revelation. Revelation means explaining something that we could never have worked out without help from another source. Lewis called it an open world system (I can’t remember the exact term).
Apologies for the long background but it may be helpful as a backdrop to the ‘revelation’ contained in this one of a kind Easter weekend.
Question therefore to ponder. Is your concept of God formed by thought and confined to your logic and understanding? Or does it include thought, but is really rooted in a revelation of Him (in the Bible) that you’d never have arrived at on your own? The latter germinates from the seed that fell into the ground and was crucified, dead and buried on Good Friday, Jesus.
What if the God/gods we may struggle with, and can’t fathom or believe in – don’t exist? That our worst fears about God are true? God/gods arising from our experience and imagination are like dust. That’s good news and a great relief. But……
What if we catch the merest hint of the real deal in every quality we admire in human heroes we’ve met or heard of? The compassion and humility of Mother Theresa, the oratory and courage of Martin Luther King, the strength and forgiveness of Nelson Mandela, the joy and optimism of a friend, the generosity of another. What if every positive quality in humanity is like a chink of light piercing through the cracked clay pot of humanity that points to a better, more hope-filled and friendly way of being? What if those are scattered glimpses of the true nature of God, who created us in His image?
If God was the kindest, most compassionate, friendliest and affirming person we ever met, why would we not want to believe in Him? If He liked us, was the best encourager, the most unconditionally supportive friend and Father, always protecting us and making a way for us. Why would we not believe in Him and want to know Him?
The thing is we need to lay down our agendas and disappointments for a few moments and dare to allow Him to speak – for a change. How? This weekend consider the events of Easter from Jesus’ Last Supper with his confused, terrified and heartbroken disciples, through their abandonment and betrayal of Him, through His excruciating trial, humiliation, and crucifixion, through the dark silence of the tomb when everyone thought it was over. And then into the magnificently irrational, unbelievable, hard to comprehend resurrection. Those three days are packed full of revelation. God speaking to you and to me. You’ll find an account in Luke chapter 22 and following.
God wasn’t angry with humanity when Jesus hung on the Cross. He was furious with evil (satan) who initiated and fuels the rebellion of His creation. The worst evil can do on earth is bring death. In Jesus’ resurrection God broke the back of death and revealed that there’s much more to life than the here and now.
It’s all about kids who’ve been hijacked, lied to, and lost in the humdrum rebellious history of humanity. We wanted to be in charge and run life our way, to hell with God. History records the cartwheels of repetitive cycles through generations and centuries. Themes of power, corruption, conquest, lust, oppression, battles and famines, slavery, exploitation, avarice and greed. It never ends….. Poor choices under the guise of freedom infecting the world like the Corona Virus. Where is the vaccine, who will save us from ourselves and the infection we carry?
An infected bat bit one human being and set off a world-wide pandemic. The deepest fear in all of us is becoming infected and dying.
God so loved the world; every man, woman and child. All were infected by sin that stretched back to Eden and a snake in the garden. The virus of self-centredness and rebellion ended in alienation from God and death.
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is the revelation on earth of God the Father’s heart, love, and yearning for restored relationship with every lost and infected man, woman and child. Life on earth was intended to be a gift to enjoy without malice or infection. When Jesus went to the Cross it was to sacrifice Himself in order to break the virus and defeat evil (satan) who carries and distributes the infection. We don’t have to live in fear and emotional isolation or lockdown because of the past.
One man on a Cross released the healing, forgiving, antidote for the curse that plagued created fallen humanity. There’s so much more to unpack and talk about. For now, how about asking God for a fresh revelation (if He exists) of His love for you and the deepest meaning of this Easter weekend you could wish for.
He really and truly believes in you!
Here’s a great song about victory rooted in an empty grave.