Why is the Friday before Easter referred to as “Good Friday,” when Christ’s death was so visibly gruesome and awful? It is because it was an expression of the grace and goodness of God through the gift of His Son and the sacrifice He made for us. The word “celebration” may not seem appropriate for an occasion that marks history’s darkest day and humanity’s brightest hope, but we certainly understand the importance of celebrating His glorious resurrection with indescribable gratitude. Every person should gladly receive the resurrection life He offers because we can experience the fullness of life through it. I don’t think there has ever been a time of greater need for those who profess faith in Christ to experience the fellowship of His suffering and the power of His resurrection.
Paul understood the importance of Christ’s suffering because it was clearly an expression of His love and compassion. Many people have become convinced that church people do not care about others. Nothing could be further from the truth for those who truly know the Lord Jesus. You see, it is the transforming power of His life and love that leads to the manifest power of true redemption. This is a far cry from mere religion. This is new life, which leads us to pursue the knowledge of God our Father—who is not merely the Father in heaven but lives in our hearts. His love fills us, spilling over like a river of life in loving expressions toward others.
Every sensible person understands that our nation is on a perilous course. We’re facing challenges that seem insurmountable and perplexing. How is it that even this week our Supreme Court is discussing whether America should approve same-sex marriage? How could we have reached this point? You might also ask how we could have removed prayer from our public schools? We would best answer that question by asking, “Why did so many Americans leave prayer out of their own homes and their personal lives?” Had Americans and professing Christians been committed to prayer, it never would have been removed from our public schools. This bad court decision should help drive us to our knees and inspire us to be more diligent in our pursuit of God’s will. No power on this earth can prevent us from seeking God, serving Him, or praying.
We should also ask how it is that committed Christians can tolerate what has now become America’s holocaust. Hitler killed 11 million people because he deceived and manipulated them into allowing the annihilation of innocent men, women, and children. He even convinced the Jews on their way to the gas chambers that he was taking them to safety and security—a better place. For 40 years Americans have tolerated the slaughter of innocent babies in the wombs of their mothers. The American people have not adequately defended the preciousness of life. Always remember: When you devalue any life, you have devalued all life. We will continue to witness the ever-increasing number of elderly and senior citizens and those who have health challenges become less important to many Americans, even to their own families.
How have these trends gained momentum? It is because the transforming resurrection power we are about to celebrate has been replaced with mere religious consent or church membership. It is obvious Christians have not led people to Christ. Their witness is weak or missing. Unless hearts are changed and minds renewed, people will not think right, live right and they certainly won’t vote right. Most professing Christians (Catholics, Protestants, and Evangelicals) don’t vote. If they did and voted on principles, we would not be on our present disastrous course because they are by far the largest identifiable percentage of the population.
It appears this week our highest court and what seems to be the majority of our population, especially among the younger, will approve that which God’s Word has disapproved. While standing against unbiblical lifestyles and practices, we must never encourage or even tolerate mockery, belittling, bullying or attempts to make anyone feel like a second-class citizen.
It’s not a matter of imposing our Christian principles and beliefs on unbelievers. That will only lead to even greater rebellion, resistance, and polarization. There will never be a substitute for the transforming power of the cross of Christ, true spiritual redemption, and living the resurrected life of Christ.
No true believer would ever put down people who are trapped by desires, appetites or who are hindered by weakness anymore than they would belittle someone who has experienced the tragic consequences of a divorce. True believers, above all people on this planet, must freely manifest the love of God expressed on Good Friday when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t really understand what they are doing.” In other words, they are being held captive by a power beyond themselves, which is so true of many. This is why we must be anxious and free to offer grace and forgiveness.
At the same time, we do not endorse or embrace choices that are contrary to the Word of God. There are many people who are held captive by desires, appetites, and addictions. Those who are defeated should diligently seek to find help and bring their actions in line with truth and true freedom, which is the liberty and overcoming grace that can be found in the Christ, whose glorious resurrection we celebrate on Easter.
We must never change God’s Word to accommodate anyone’s faulty lifestyle. We ask God to grant us the grace and ability to see our practices and appetites brought in line with His Word and truth. It is truth that makes us free, and only truth can keep us free. God’s Word is truth, and the Jesus who was raised on Easter is alive to live in us with delivering power. He has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us and enable us to overcome temptation. It does not disappear, but Jesus offers us the power to prevail. Believers don’t have to live in defeat as prisoners to unbridled passions. We can live as over comers experiencing the liberating power of God.
When asking the very important question, “What are we to do about our nation’s direction?” One might answer, “Surely we need to elect principled leaders with strong character.” This is true, but keep in mind that misguided, misdirected, deceived people do not recognize good leaders, and many people who decide to run for office will themselves prove to live unprincipled lives controlled by deception. How are we going to know what is best? Only by putting aside the deeds of darkness and fixing our eyes on Jesus, committed to the Word God has given us to guide our steps.
I am convinced that every priest, pastor, preacher, politician, parent, business leader, and laborer needs a fresh encounter with Christ. As Jesus said, everyone must experience a spiritual new birth, and even those who have are in obvious need of a present day spiritual awakening. Believers need to experience what Paul referenced in Philippians as the “fellowship of His sufferings.” We need to identify in a personal way with what is on our Lord’s heart to first identify with His concerns, and then to experience the power of His resurrection.
The main reason our nation gropes in darkness right now is because people who claim to know the light and who are called to be light in this world have allowed that light to be hidden, covered, and even compromised. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Christians on this Easter weekend would recommit wholeheartedly their lives to the Lord Jesus and His commission—to be disciples and witnesses on this earth, here at home and around the world for His glory?
It is very important for every American to be praying for our leaders, to be concerned about our nation’s direction, to care about our neighbors—and yes, to even hope for great leadership and principled election results. Every Christian must know this: Winning elections is not nearly as important as winning hearts and minds. Until the heart is changed by the power of God and the mind is renewed by the truth of His Word, we won’t have qualified leaders with the necessary character and strength. Without changed hearts and renewed minds, we’re not going to have voters with the integrity, wisdom, discernment and understanding necessary to choose those who can best lead.
Until Americans correctly “choose this day whom they will serve,” they are going to find themselves “bond slaves” to out-of-control appetites, compulsive behavior, lack of sensitivity, diminishing compassion, over reaching government and ever-increasing, unbearable bondage. Only Jesus can break the shackles, set the captives free and give us the hope, peace and security our hearts long for and everyone deserves. God the Father so desires it for us, He gave His Son to pay the price for our sins and raised Him to live in us—to give us life now and forever. A phrase we often hear from the lips of politicians and public speakers in their closing remarks is, “God bless America!” We might better ask, “When will America and our citizens once again wholeheartedly seek to bless God?”