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Easter Sunday: Hope for the Hopeless

It remains the defining event of Western civilization.

Like Christmas, Easter Sunday is celebrated across the world by believers and non-believers alike. But there is a yawning chasm between chocolate bunnies and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Both are celebrations. However, while one is merely a pleasant rite of passage from winter to spring, the other stands as the central event around which Western civilization has revolved for more than 2,000 years.

This Easter dualism is increasingly running parallel to the growing distance between Christians and non-believers, and between the nation at large and a faith central to its founding. Just as among ordinary Americans, not all the founding fathers were men of deep faith, but all were respectful of and deferential to it. Today, no such common bond holds this ever more fragile republic together.

But there is an even deeper division represented by this special weekend, that between darkness and light. The Christian endures and embraces the journey from grief over the reality of their own sin on Good Friday to the incomparable joy of a full pardon and promise of paradise on Easter Sunday. In order to experience the fullness of this civilization-defining 48 hours from crucifixion to resurrection, the believer must first grieve over their own responsibility for Jesus being forced to endure unspeakable cruelty in order to experience the full glory of the resurrection.

Easter, Salt, and Light

True biblically based faith does not lead to a call for political victory, but rather for believers to live out their faith day by day, to serve as salt and light in a fallen world. The ongoing attitude and individual acts of love and mercy define the truly convicted Christian. At the same time, the power in the claims of Christ has always drawn pretenders and exploiters. Just as the terms “democratic” and “republic” became so valuable that even a murderous totalitarian regime such as East Germany adopted the name of the German Democratic Republic, many a false Christian prophet has arisen over time. But while countless numbers are taken in, those with deep, abiding faith are quick to recognize and dismiss such charlatans.

Christians from all walks of life – white, brown, or black; young or old; and from anywhere in the world – are bonded in a covenantal relationship with God.  A white Christian can walk into a black church – or vice-versa – today and immediately share a common bond, the central premise of their lives, that they are all sinners saved by unmerited grace. Indeed, genuine diversity is to be found among the “great cloud of witnesses” who worship the Christ.

As a pastor once intoned, nobody has ever been argued into the kingdom of God. Christians are convicted, not persuaded. Their incredible predicate for belief is one that can hardly be understood at an intellectual level: that God sent his only begotten son to live amongst us and teach us the truth that lies above our earthly lives of quiet desperation. He would die a pauper’s death in excruciating fashion and rise again in order to grant us permanent residence in God’s presence, what we call heaven. It is a gift of faith for the faithless, love for the loveless, hope for the hopeless. It is a story – and a promise – that never gets old.

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

Read More From Tim Donner

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