What is the point of Easter?
I enjoy looking out our office window especially now as the trees begin to bud with the signs of spring. I marvel at this time because it is a wonderful reminder of one of the most glorious times of the year, Easter.
Growing up in a non-religious household, Easter always meant egg hunts, the Easter Bunny, and the promise of warmer weather. It was fun, lighthearted, and inconsequential.
However, now that I am a Christian, it means so much more. As I look through my office window, the budding trees remind me of how Christ died — as did these trees through the winter — yet with the dawning of the spring, they are “resurrected” with new life — even as Christ was.
During this season many churches are ramping up for what is historically one of the highest attended services of the year. And, as one who never went to church growing up, but does so faithfully now, I have a difficulty understanding why this is.
If one believes in the faith they claim to possess, why not go every weekend? If one does not believe, why go at all?
I can only speculate that the majority of visitors who attend church twice a year (Christmas and Easter) does so out of tradition, but his/her faith, or going to church, does not have any real significance on his/her personal life — much less our community and society — or, does it?
Most churches would answer in the affirmative. For, they desire that through their Easter productions people would come to faith in Christ, and thereby transform their lives for the good of all of society.
However, I have seen in my own life and the lives of so many around me an ability to compartmentalize and marginalize one’s faith to religious activity, rather than having one’s faith shape the way they think and behave.
Rather than allowing the Bible to judge me, I judge it; I pick and choose what I want to believe, and continue to live my life the way I see fit.
Because of such compartmentalization, one can see a play about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and seemingly not be affected.
However, if the Easter story of Jesus is true, does it not demand a response — one way or the other?
Maybe this is why we have so many visitors rather than members in our churches, because most of us do not wish to confront this very obvious question. It is far easier to live a religious lifestyle rather than a devout one.
Think about it, who wants to be told that he/she is wrong about anything, much less sinful? In our politically correct culture, making such an assertion is offensive, and hence encapsulates a dilemma many churches face.
Do they present only the positive aspects of Christianity and avoid being “offensive”? Or do they present the entire Gospel, and remind us that God so loves all of us that He sent Jesus to die for our sins, and through him our lives will be changed?
The very way I present this dilemma reveals my opinion. Yes, churches should lovingly share the entire Gospel. However, saying how to approach Easter services and doing it are two different things.
It is clear that unless we move past mere religious tradition and move into recognizing the power and relevance true faith in Christ has on our society, we will continue to see declining church attendance, continued marginalization of Christian opinion in the public square, and continued coarsening of hearts, and glorification of outrageous behavior.
Twenty years ago I moved past mere religious tradition and have been endeavoring to live out the implications of my faith ever since. It is why I write this article today.
And it is why when I see a tree in early spring and Easter Sunday arrives, I am reminded there is life in Christ that truly does give abundant life.
[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville along with her husband and their five children.]