Thursday, April 21, 2011

We've been robbed!

Several years ago my wife and I went out of town to the mountains of North Carolina for a long weekend with my parents. We had a great time. We got back home Sunday evening and proceeded to get our son, who was about 4 at the time, in the bed. After getting him settled in I began unpacking our car. I grabbed the suit cases and brought them in the den. I began to separate the clothes into what needed to be washed and what could go back in the closet. We always pack too much. As I took my stuff back to the bedroom something caught my eye. I turned and noticed my closet was empty! All of my clothes were gone! My suits, pants, shirts, ties and shoes were gone! I called my wife and she immediately went to a drawer where she kept some jewelry and some other valuables and they were gone! We had been robbed! The feeling was gut wrenching. Someone came into our home and took what did not belong to him.

This week we are coming up on Easter. For Christians this is one of the most sacred days of the year. This is when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. However, as I look around I feel as though we have been robbed. We have been robbed by the world who has made Easter all about bunnies, colored eggs and cute Easter outfits. One township in Ohio is changing the name of their annual Easter Egg Hunt to The Spring Egg Hunt. Easter is not the only holiday we have been robbed of. Look at what has happened to Christmas. It is all about Santa Clause, decorating a tree and spending an insane amount of money on stuff we don't need. The emphasis is not on Christ but on Santa. The world does not even want to use the word Christmas any more because it is too offensive. Many say Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings. Some municipalities have had to make changes as to avoid using the word Christmas. Some call it the Midwinter Celebration or Winter Break.

This use to bother me and it still does to a certain extent but I have a better understanding of why so many are opposed to it. In reality the individuals or government agencies are not offended by the name Easter or Christmas they are offended by the true meaning of these holidays. Easter celebrates Christ's resurrection, His victory over sin and death. Why is this so offensive? Because it forces us to look at who we really are not who we pretend to be. We are sinners, desperately wicked sinners. Sinners who cannot fix who we are on our own. The good news is that if we recognize this and recognize that we are in desperate need of help we can be set free from this. I think one of the most powerful verses in scripture is found in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians:
I Corinthians 6:9-11 - 9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Imagine if verse 11 were not there. Imagine if it stopped at verse 10. We would be lost, separated from God forever because we can find ourselves described in verses 9 and 10. Verses 9 and 10 alone are somber and depressing verses, verses that would leave a reader with a sense of hopelessness, but thank God for verse 11. Verse 11 gives us hope, verse 11 is why we celebrate Easter and Christmas. Verse 11 is why the world may try to change the meaning of these sacred days, the world may try to rob us of what they truly mean, the world may try to shift our focus from God to goodies, from a Savior to a Santa.

Take a few minutes to reflect on the words of Peter in the book of Acts:
Acts 2:22-24 - 22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
As we approach Easter take time to lock the doors and windows of your soul so the enemy cannot rob you of your most valuable possession. The promise of God. The promise that because of the finished work of Christ at the cross we have hope. Because of the finished work of Christ we have verse 11 and the enemy can never steal that from us. HAPPY EASTER!

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