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The Christian's prelude to Easter

Posted: March 17, 2013 - 12:02am

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross... and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

– Hebrews 12:2

Sometimes we who air our opinions in public, via sermons, columns or letters to the editor, do so because we feel some urgency to “fix” the world. If something or someone doesn’t change, terrible consequences will occur – or something like that.

But in these pre-Easter days, I’m wondering why we – I, especially – don’t follow the advice of the author of the book of Hebrews and “fix our eyes on Jesus,” instead.

For Christians, Easter is the most important day in the church year, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the event that sets our faith apart from all other religions. As revered as other deities may be to those who worship them, no one else in all of history has ever returned to life on his own power.

Easter represents victory not only over the evil in the world and in our own lives, but over the ultimate evil, death itself – not only for Jesus, but for all who call Him “Lord.”

“Because I live,” Jesus said, “you will live, also.” (John 14:19)

So why do most of us who call ourselves Christians live in an “ain’t it awful” world? Why do we act as though there were no death-defeating God in control, and that the world and all its problems are on our shoulders alone?

Lee Whiston was an author, pastor and the most important mentor of my young life. White-haired before I knew him, this gentle man was wisdom wrapped in a cloak of encouragement, guidance without a trace of “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not,” and love that didn’t seem to notice the frailties of his congregation or friends.

Typical of his response to one of my perennial bouts of pessimism was this: “Barbara, you are not living in the realm of the resurrection.” Often, especially in these warring and governmental gridlock days, I think of Lee’s words and ponder the “realm” to which he referred.

The original, first-century post-resurrection days must have resembled Colonial America following the Revolution, V-E and V-J Day at the end of World War II, and medal ceremonies at the Olympic Games all rolled into one.

For those who grieved their Lord’s death, seeing Him alive again had to be an ecstatic experience. For those who understood that this victory was not over mere rivals or the enemies who had killed Him, but over forces no human had ever conquered before, the realm of the resurrection meant that everything about their world, imperfect though it remained, was alive again and full of hope.

Though governments continued to repress and impoverish the masses, and justice was administered less by law than by fickle, human whim, the energized disciples spread Christianity across the known world, even though, for some, martyrdom was their earthly reward. They could endure any pain, any discouragement and even death, because their behavior was synonymous with their faith.

For me, these nearly 2,000 years after the first Easter, thinking about that realm is both a comfort and a reality check. The current, post-resurrection world is imperfect, too, and some things really are getting worse instead of better.

But the resurrection story reminds me that we can live above our flagging spirits, our temporary set-backs and anything else in the physical realm because the final victory has already been won.

I doubt I’ll ever completely grasp such total optimism – my “ain’t-it-awful” syndrome is a hard act to kill – but I’m going to try.

This Easter, how about joining me in leaving the burden of fixing the world to God, and fixing our eyes – and the way we live in our corner of the world – on Jesus instead.

(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer and author of As Long As the Rivers Run: Highlights of Columbia County’s Past. Email comments to seabara@aol.com.)

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