This time of year always brings up thoughts of forgiveness and resurrection. I've always had difficulty grasping the meaning and the gravity of Good Friday. I think possibly because I've always known Jesus to be alive, so it's difficult to mourn the death of someone still with you. That's not to say that I don't understand the importance of the day, the act, or the sacrifice, it's just difficult to grieve when you are still filled with joy. I have, when applicable, felt grieved as a result of my sin, but the forgiveness I've found in Jesus far surpasses that. The sorrow I have lasts only a while, where as the joy I've found in Christ stays with me always.
God has really been working in my heart as of lately, teaching me how to love. In the past on Easter Sunday I would sit in anger and cynicism at the crowded church. Here I am, a faithful attendee of the congregation, surrounded by people who are attending bitterly out of guilt and obligation because it's a holiday. I would sit and sing to myself a little song along the lines of:
"If I had a little box to put my Jesus in,
I'd take him out at Christmas time,
then put him back again."
I realize it's Easter, not Christmas, but the song was still applicable. This year however God instilled in me a new sense of compassion. Where before I was filled with contempt, now I was filled with love. These are people who's only exposure to Christianity is the three times a year that they attend out of guilt. If a church service lasts an hour and a half then we have approximately 4.5 hours a year to effectively witness the love of Christ to these people. That's not a lot of time. And if the majority of the church feels the same way I did in years past then I doubt we are doing a good job of it.
I have a friend named Derek who once said to me "Baker, you are the first Christian who hasn't told me I'm going to hell. You haven't said I'm not going to hell, but you haven't told me I am." Is that what we've become as a church? Instead of loving the lost are are condemning them?
The truth is, there probably isn't a way that we can reach people in an hour and a half, three times a year. But what are we doing the rest of that year? We need to be contagiously lovable, we need to be out in the world, serving, loving and having fellowship and community. Then the Christ who lives in us, who transforms us, would seem irresistible. And that is how we will resurrect the Church. That is how we ourselves will be resurrected.
4We 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.
5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—