We are five days into Holy Week, and almost into the Easter weekend. Churches are preparing for their special Easter services, Lockdown, here in the UK, is beginning to ease, and many people are looking forward to a long weekend off work. The normal mass exodus overseas during the Easter holiday period is not happening, many are staying at home, taking day trips, and finding ways to vacation in the UK.
Last Easter, Lockdown 1 was still new, the weather was beautiful, and large numbers of people watched online church services. At that point it looked like a spiritual renewal was underway as tens of thousands of people were accessing church for the first time. Many of them were deeply impacted by what they were hearing, and the experiences they were having engaging with church.
However, over the proceeding months, many of these same people dis-engaged and stopped accessing the online church content. They had sampled church, and many walked away unchanged. This is really sad, but also predictable. Instead of seeking a Saviour, they were seeking a Comforter.
Without the Saviour, the Comforter is in fact a Convicter who challenges people about their sin and need of Christ. People were largely rejecting the conviction, and thus didn’t get the salvation in Christ which brings the comfort they were looking for. Instead of meeting the One who changes lives, they walked away unchanged.
The challenge has always been making disciples who make disciples. Many were looking for spiritual support so that they could survive and continue to live their own lives in the midst of great change, fear and threat from Covid-19. Instead of coming to find Jesus on His terms, they were coming looking on their terms.
Repentance, asking forgiveness for the old life and our sin, and turning away from it to Christ, was not a part of what they were willing to do. Without repentance, true discipleship cannot happen. Repentance and salvation open the door to the New Birth, and the new quality of life promised in the Bible.
The World’s Pathway
We live in an age of Relativism and Consumerism. Relativism means that people do not believe in absolute truth, and that all truth is relative to society, culture and what people believe about each other and the past. Relativism is rooted in antichrist philosophy and a rejection of God as Creator and Master of all He has made. It denies the power in God’s word and instead promotes the power in human reasoning and deciding.
Consumerism is all about the power of self, about the consumption of goods, services and ideas which reinforce the power of mammon. Mammon means an antichrist trust in the power of money, wealth and possessions to make one feel important, happy and fulfilled. Mammon turns these three things into idols that are foundational to how one values oneself, others and the nation one lives in.
God’s Pathway in Christ
Biblical Christianity recognises that every good and perfect gift, including life itself, grace and the power to live to please God, all come by the Spirit, through Christ from God. It exposes the hidden works of darkness, and the hidden powers behind much of society, and proclaims freedom and victory through the Cross of Christ.
It demonstrates another way, the way of grace, faith, love, obedience and sacrifice. It reminds us that we are subject and accountable to God Almighty. It teaches how to fear and reverence God, while worshipping, living and serving Him and His purposes through Christ.
This Easter, things are very different to last year. Last year, the full impact of Covid-19 was not yet appreciated; although we were moving very quickly into that dark period when the First wave of Covid-19 was rolling over the nation, the novelty of Lockdown, good weather, and beginning to work from home meant that there was largely an innocent outlook on the events. Of course, for those on the Frontline, in the NHS and Care Homes it already was clear about the stark reality of the Pandemic.
In 2021, many of the more vulnerable have been vaccinated; indeed, many adults over 50 have had their first dose of the vaccine. The outlook, although still difficult, is improving and people are looking forward to spring and the summer.
There is a sense that we are through the worst of it and can begin to dare to hope that we have experienced our last Lockdown. Last year, the UK seemed to be stumbling way behind other nations in our response to the Pandemic – this year, we actually seem to have got our act together and are doing a number of things right as we battle the virus and deal with all the challenges that it is bringing with it.
What does Easter Mean?
For me, Easter is an important chance to give thanks to the Lord Jesus for all He has done to enable me to be saved, redeemed, justified and reconciled to Father God. Without the Passion of Christ, without His Resurrection then I would be without hope.
For all who know and love the Lord Jesus, Easter is a special time for reflection, introspection and a spiritual MOT. Are we proving ourselves worthy of all that He did for us. It is also a time to remember all of those who are no longer with us.
This last year has been one with many personal tragedies, many untimely deaths, many broken lives, many battles with mental ill-health, and fears without and fears within.
Easter reminds us of the hope of forgiveness, cleansing and renewal in Christ – of resurrection and new life all found in Him. It also challenges us to share the Good News about what Easter really means with those not yet in Christ.
As we think about Easter and what it means for us – may the Holy Spirit give us fresh revelation and a clear knowledge of the Holy One as we remember, celebrate and give voice to our witness to Christ. Amen