If, like me, you scratch your head over this whole dying on the cross and rising from the tomb situation, then let me invite you to puzzle through this with me.
I'm not saying I have all the answers about Easter. But I can tell you a few things that I have worked out to be true.
I believe in a loving God
who made us with thoughtfulness and care and good intentions,
who stays with us through all that life throws at us,
who never holds a grudge,
who loves us during every instant of our lives, from our first breath to our last.
I believe God wants us to feel so happy and safe and secure in his love that we naturally want everyone else in this world to feel that same joy. He wants us to share his love - each of us in our own special way - with other people, to spread his love around the world.
When we really get in tune with God's love this way, we are helping him to bring in the kingdom. That's what we were born for. That's what sets our hearts pumping and gets us tingling from head to toe. Bringing in the kingdom makes us feel alive like nothing else. I believe it's the deepest purpose of human life.
I believe there is just one thing that sometimes gets in the way of this amazing flow of love. One really big thing.
Sin is big but sin is simple. Sin is anything that
sets us at odds with God, or
puts us in conflict with one another.
We humans are imperfect. We fall into little traps of sin every darn day, and it just can't be helped. Sin is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, any more than we should be embarrassed that our fingernails grow or ashamed that we sneeze from time to time.
Sin is part of being human.
Now here's where sin becomes a bigger problem. Some humans get a little prideful about sin.
We like to imagine that there are different categories of sin, different levels of sinfulness. We tell ourselves that whatever we might be doing wrong is nothing compared to what other people are doing wrong, right?
In God's eyes, sin is sin is sin. It's all the same to him.
And my human brain can kind of see the logic in that.
But I believe that is not how God sees it.
See, God does not want us to waste our time on sin.
He knows that we can't help sinning. But he wants us to learn from it, get over it, put the sin behind us as quickly as possible, because he's got better things for us to be doing.
He wants us to focus our time and energy on love, on helping him bring in the kingdom, right?
And that's where Easter comes in.
God let Jesus die on the cross so he could say,
"Look, my dear children, I brought this amazing person named Jesus into the world so he could explain my heart to you, so you could get in tune with my love, so you could help me bring in my amazing kingdom.
"But even in the midst of that beautiful plan, I allowed sin to run wild and I allowed Jesus to get nailed to that cross and die, all so you can see that I'm serious about forgiving sin.
"I forgive all sin.
"All the time.
"When you're feeling bad about something you did or said, ask me to forgive you and I will. And then the sin is gone. Forever. Without a trace. I wash you clean and give you a completely fresh start. And I will keep forgiving you, every single day, as long as you keep asking.
"And when you learn to accept my forgiveness and let go of your sin, every single day, you will be transformed. Just as Jesus walked out of that tomb on Easter morning, pure and shining and fully alive, you too will reborn into a new life of love and light. A life where sin has no hold on you. A life where love triumphs over sin. A life where you help me bring in my kingdom."
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Now I'll be the first to say that I can't be sure about all this. But I think about Easter a lot. And I believe, just maybe, that this is true.
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More Easter stories? Yes.