I've been praying and asking the Lord for direction all week regarding this Good Friday post. I do not take lightly the following subject and wanted to be certain my words were truthful and loving.
I asked the boys a few days ago the following question:
Why do we celebrate Easter?
We had a lengthy discussion together with many different thoughts and ideas.
In the end, it all boiled down to this one simple truth:
The beginning of understanding the significance of Easter starts with recognizing one's NEED for a Savior.
It isn't until one grasps the depravity of his own sinful nature that he says, "I need Jesus."
For some this is an easy lesson, but for others it takes time.
Skeptics and non-Christians are hesitant even to admit we are sinful beings.
I remember very clearly a debate that was had in an Anthropology class I took in college. The debate was about morality and the issue of right and wrong.
The teacher's message was that determining right and wrong was all RELATIVE to one's perspectives and beliefs and that it was always a GRAY issue. She concluded that there cannot be an ABSOLUTE TRUTH, or a black and white line, in regards to the debate over right and wrong.
I recall listening to the teacher and many students for 20 minutes or so before I couldn't stay quiet any longer.
Finally I raised my hand and asked, "Isn't your stance in itself a contradiction. By arguing that right and wrong are relative you are, in fact, believing and arguing FOR absolute truth."
To be honest, I had regrets that I said anything at all because I then found myself at the center of the debate for the next 45 minutes: Them versus Me. It was lonely on my side.
Throughout the debate, I found myself posing this kind-of question:
If there is no right or wrong, or sin as some call it, THEN...
- How do we explain men who beat their girlfriends over and over again?
- How do we explain the bullying that goes on in schools?
- How do we explain men who financially destroy the poor all in the name of business?
- How do we explain lying to gain advantage over another?
- How do we explain murders and theft?
- How do we explain greed, lust, and pride?
- How do we explain the men who sexually abuse young boys and girls?
Just watch the news. Clearly, human nature is fallen.
This debate over right and wrong is key to Christianity.
There simply is no need for Jesus if sin doesn't exist.
I remember a time growing up when I did what I now call, The Perfect Experiment.
I was about 10 years old and decided that I was going to wake up in the morning and try really hard to be perfect. This went on for about a week and every day I failed.
I recall making it to the morning bus ride and blowing the whole thing by telling my sister to, "Shut Up."
This probably sounds silly to you. Skeptics would argue that my obsession with perfection and the guilt I felt over my sin was the result of my religious upbringing and nothing more. I disagree.
This experiment had a lasting effect on me. In the midst of my pride, each day I began to understand more clearly that it was utterly impossible for me to be good, or perfect on my own strength. I just kept missing the mark. I innately had a desire to do good but my flesh kept tripping me up.
Long ago I recognized my need for a Savior.
The Perfect Experiment only confirmed it.
Scripture teaches that "ALL have sinned" and that "there is no one righteous, not even one." Romans 3:10, 23
This reality can make people nervous, even angry.
"How dare you tell me I'm "evil" or "bad!
I'm a decent person who tries to be kind and good."
I understand the struggle. It's hard to stomach that we are sinful, especially when we can compare how we live to the likes of murderers, thieves, and rapists.
Christianity, however, is not about shouting at people and telling them how horrible they are. This is hypocrisy and religious pride rearing its ugly and destructive yet. Jesus was clear in saying that only "he who is without sin is to cast the first stone." (John 8:7)
Christianity is about humbly recognizing one's own depravity and need for a Savior. It's about looking to God and accepting His grace, forgiveness, and love. It's about the freedom to admit one's shortcomings and LET God make up for them. And then it's about humbly sharing our story with others.
And this, my friends, is what I long for my children to understand about Easter.
We celebrate Jesus because we so desperately need His forgiveness and love.
In Philippians 3:9 (NLT) Paul confesses: "I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith."
I pray that someday all my children will make this confession.
Join me in prayer today.
Jesus, I pray that this Easter my children will begin to understand and recognize their NEED for a savior. I pray they would see that they cannot count on their own goodness or ability to do what is right, but that they simply need You to save them. I pray you would grant them the gift of faith to believe in You and accept your grace, forgiveness, and love.
Romans 3:10, 23; Philippians 3:9