During Easter week many folks turn to thoughts of eggs and bunnies but for even more people Easter is all about Christianity. But there is a problem. Which Christianity do they consider?
I want to look at misconceptions about Christianity itself and ultimately about the real meaning of Easter. The world sees Christianity as a religion based on three iconic images, all of which do not represent true Christianity… The Manger, The Cross, and The Tomb.
We must be careful that we don’t live a caricature of their perceived religion… for example…
The First Christian Icon: The Religion of the Manger.
This is a religion that relates to the baby Jesus. He’s cute, cuddly, with warm and fuzzy emotions of motherhood, gift giving, universal peace, and a non-offensive focus on the little bundle of a human Jesus. He is mild-mannered and meek.
This religion is a non-threatening, non-demanding, warmness way down deep and puts Jesus on about the same level as the Valentine’s Day cupid.
Is this your Christianity?
We all know people who follow this Christianity. Everything is bumper stickers and cute sayings. There are no challenges for self-sacrifice or service. This Christianity is great for poems and cards of flowery rhetoric… But there’s a problem.
Jesus grew up. He became a revolutionary who called for sacrificial service and was killed because of His radical, spiritual teachings. That manger is empty!
The Second Christian Icon: The Religion of the Cross.
This is a religion of the tragic, suffering, dying Christ. Jesus is left hanging there in a terrible accident of fate or some horrific religious murder.
Too many live this life of Christian misery made up of self guilt and death, looking for every opportunity to be a suffering martyr portraying the not so subtle message of “the more I suffer, the more saintly I am.”
But, we can’t keep Jesus on the cross with statues of His suffering, half lidded eyes looking piously and tragically toward heaven.
Jesus was taken down. He told the believing criminal they had places to go when He said, “tonight you will be with me in paradise”… He expected something else… He is no longer on that cruel cross. The cross is empty!
The Third Icon of “Christianity”: The Religion of the Tomb.
This religion is a dead religion – old, dusty, out of date and buried. People that live this Christianity live by musty old rules, rituals, formulaic prayers, and ancient somber songs. This religion presents Jesus as some dead religious leader like Buddha, Mohammad, Mahatma Gandhi, or Confucius.
We must be careful that we don’t live our lives as old-fashioned, musty, and dead…. The Sanctified, Purified, and Petrified.
If we examine the Bible we discover that this Religion of the Tomb is not really a true option for the believer. We can’t keep Jesus an old historical teacher from ages past who taught quaint rules, rites and rituals.
It’s crucial to remember that Jesus’ worst enemies couldn’t produce His dead body to refute His claims. In fact, God placed an angel at the tomb ready to explain that, “He’s not here.” The Tomb is empty!
So Christianity is indeed an empty religion. The manger, the cross, and the tomb are all empty. So where is the Good News?
The Great Good News is that Christianity is NOT a religion at all!
If you make it a religion, it will indeed be an empty one. What is Religion? A code of living – Man’s attempts to reach God – to please God – to appease God by following the teaching of some dead or dying religious leader.
Christianity is NOT a religion – it IS a relationship… a relationship with a living friend, who is your personal Savior.
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. “You are My friends if you do what I command you. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. “This I command you, that you love one another. John 15:13–17
Christianity is the only world faith based upon undeserved and unearned Grace. God takes the initiative. We lived in sin but God came calling. Jesus came as a light in a dark world offering anyone who would believe in Him a full life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control.
The Good News is the true Christian is not empty – he or she IS FULL!
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16–19
Did you notice that phrase, “that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God?”
Jesus left the manger empty, and left the cross empty, and even left the tomb empty so that we could be full of His Holy Spirit and have an eternal, living, vibrant, and joyful relationship with a living Lord.
What is your religion? Are you playing at Christianity? Playing at church? Or are you fellowshipping with God in a FULL personal relationship with a living Christ?
He is risen, He is risen indeed! Happy Easter!
Think about it…