As I sat in church, worshiping God on a clear, brisk, sunny Easter morning, two things that my pastor said struck home to me.
I’ll talk to you about the first one today; the second tomorrow.
That first thing is this:
Lent is a time for preparing our hearts for the cleansing of Easter.
To be honest, I’m sure my pastor didn’t say those exact words, but rather, that’s how the Holy Spirit interpreted the message for me. And the next think I knew, I was thinking about this blog: the Christian Persecution Report.
I’ve been lax on my upkeep of this blog. I don’t know why, except to know that lately I’ve been struggling with some personal issues of faith, which has caused me to take a step back from a lot of things, including this blog.
The season of Lent has always been a profound time of growth for me, but this year I was having a hard time focusing and recommitting my heart, mind and soul to matters of faith.
But something happened during the last week or so of Lent that helped me to reconnect with God. I’ve been doing a lot of asking God to give me a clean heart and fresh start.
So, as I sat there listening to the Easter message, I “heard” a loud voice in my heart say that Easter was the time to start again and get back to blogging about God’s people and their struggles.
This morning, as I was thinking about this some more, I was directed to a passage in Hebrews 9 in my prayer/study time.
When Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. – Hebrews 9: 11-14 ESV
Easter, the most glorious day on the Christian calendar, is the day that Christ overcame death and purified us of our sins. When he died on the cross he took on all of our sins, but on Easter God’s plan to save us was finished.
Without Easter, the plan is incomplete. We wander around hopelessly without the resurrection of Christ, chasing after “dead works”. A lot like I seem to have been doing lately.
My pastor asked us to imagine what it must have been like for the disciples during those three days. They must have felt like they might have wasted three years of their lives. They probably felt like they were going to have to go back to their old jobs. And they probably thought that they were going to have to face ridicule from their friends and family for traipsing around the countryside after some false hope placed on an ordinary man who was probably crazy. There’s no way Jesus of Nazareth could have been the Messiah they were all looking for. He’d just been killed.
But on Easter, Christ showed the disciples, and us, that faith and hope in him is justified. He rose from the dead, overcame our sins and our own death, and in doing so, gives us the task to “serve the living God.” Jesus gave the disciples their hope back the day he rose from the dead.
For many years, I have felt compelled and led to serve God by helping the persecuted church, but lately I’ve been doing a lot of wandering, just like the disciples between Gethsemane and Easter morning. I had lost a little bit of my hope.
But like the disciples who realized that their faith in Christ as their savior was not misplaced, on Easter morning I realized that it was time to get back to what I am called to do: working on behalf of God’s persecuted children.
I thought about scrubbing the blog clean, just like Jesus washes our sins away, but I decided to let the blog stand as is: past mistakes, false starts and all.
I hope that you will appreciate my struggle and take note of the changes. I hope that you can forgive me for wandering a bit and not fully committing to this blog.
And I hope that you’ll come back tomorrow for Part II of my post-Easter musings and will regularly follow this blog so that you can share in the joy of what it means to serve the living God for so many of our Christian brothers and sisters.