Every year we partake in the same holy rituals of Lent and Easter. We spend forty days preparing our hearts and quieting our minds for the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. We fast and meditate on our depravity, our inability to save ourselves. And then Easter morning comes, and we wear pastel while we present the children with plastic eggs and stuffed Easter baskets, and we sing praise at the top of our lungs because He is risen.
Then on Monday…we go back to work and to school. We toss the broken plastic egg bits and the chocolate bunny wrappers, we put away the pastel clothes for next year, we regret having that extra serving of ham at dinner the night before.
Shouldn’t our lives look different after the events that we celebrate on Easter morning? It’s only the lynchpin of our entire faith, the reenactment of the incarnate God-become-man who lived the perfect life we couldn’t live and died the death we deserved in order to save us. And yet, we often return to “normal” life unchanged by our miraculous experience with the divine.
How, then, should we live? How should we move through our days – all of our days, but perhaps especially in the immediate aftermath of Easter – in light of the gospel?
Dane Ortlund writes in his book Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners the following:
One reason our spiritual growth grinds down is that we gradually lose a heart sense of the profound length to which Jesus went to save us. Save us. When we were running full speed the other direction, he chased us down, subdued our rebellion, and opened our eyes to see our need of him and his all-sufficiency to meet that need. We were not drowning, in need of being thrown a life-preserver; we were stone-dead at the bottom of the ocean. He pulled us up, breathed new life into us, and set us on our feet – and every breath we now draw is owing to his full and utter deliverance of us in all our helplessness and death.
That, friends, is what we celebrate at Easter. And the reason we perform the same playacting every year is because our memories are short, and we need to be continually reminded of who Christ is and what he has done for us. We are the children of Israel crying for food while manna falls from heaven. “I believe,” we cry alongside the father of the boy with a demon inside him, “help my unbelief!” (Mark 9).
Is it possible, suggests Ortlund, that our vision of Jesus is not clear, or not complete, thus resigning ourselves to a “junior varsity, decaffeinated, one-dimensional Jesus of our own making,” a Jesus who “pitches in and helps you out in your otherwise smoothly running existence?” I know I am guilty of this on Monday morning, looking over my busy schedule and frantically running through my days as though everything relies on me. As though I have control over anything. As though I am some sort of savior. Ortlund goes on, “Have you treated what is spiritually nuclear as a double-A battery? Might one reason we stall out in our growth in Christ be that we have unwittingly domesticated the expansive authority and rule of Jesus Christ over all things?”
When we think too little of Jesus, we consequently think too much of ourselves. We suppose he’s not big enough to solve our problems, or he is not interested in them; the result in either case is that we’re left to sort out our lives by ourselves. We raise our hands on Easter morning, but on Monday we go back to being functional atheists.
But as John Ortberg writes in The Life You’ve Always Wanted, “God is not interested in your ‘spiritual life.’ God is just interested in your life. He intends to redeem it. … So the story of the human race is not just one of universal disappointment, but one of inextinguishable hope.”
Providentially for us, God is in the business of bringing dead people back to life. So the doubts and disappointments and despair that afflict us as soon as we go back to our “real life” outside of church, why those are nothing more than opportunities for God to work.
So this year, why don’t we try something new? Why don’t we commit, together with each other, to viewing the world differently, through renewed eyes that we were given when our hearts were transformed and we became new creations? Let’s look for where God is working, for evidence of his grace all around us. Let’s look for the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8), let’s live in the freedom and glory we enjoy as children of God (Rom. 8:21), and let’s let the joy of the Lord be our strength (Neh. 8:10). That is the only way to live after Easter.
Written By: Jess Glass