Independence Day 2016

Freedom-Not-Free--independence-day-825621_960_720pixabayFreedom isn’t free.  It’s a phrase we often hear, so much that it’s become cliche.  But it’s true.

President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

In the United States, we are blessed to live in a place and at a time where we are free to worship God, and to tell others about Jesus.  Many, many places in the world do not have that same freedom.

But as important as that political and social freedom is, it pales in comparison to the freedom we have that was secured to us by Jesus.

Because of Jesus, we are able to receive forgiveness from God.  This is true, unending freedom.  Forgiveness now and forever.

Freedom to follow Jesus, live like Jesus (as best as we can, anyway), and ultimately spend eternity with Jesus once we experience our Earthly death.

That is true freedom!

How was your Easter?

cross-luke-6-46_640pixabay“How was your Easter?”

That was a common question I head this week.  My response has been “Well, Resurrection Sunday was wonderful, and I am STILL enjoying Easter.”

For the secular part of society, Easter is a single day that is marked by the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts and chocolate.  And maybe church.

But in the church, Easter isn’t a single day, but rather a season that lasts 50 days, until Pentecost.  Pentecost was marked by the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the faithful.  It was at that point the church began to grow exponentially.

Now, even in the church there is far more attention given to Easter Sunday itself; and that is understandable.  It’s the day we recognize and celebrate the single most important aspect of our faith: that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

The entire faith hinges on the resurrection.  If there was no resurrection, nothing else matters.  Indeed, as the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17-20, “17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.  20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.”

In fact, 1 Christians 15 is one of the most amazing testimonies in the entire New Testament.  It is a great portion of scripture to read when we have doubts, which we all do from time to time.

Which leads me to my greater point.

Many, if not most of us, joyfully celebrate Resurrection Sunday.  And we should.  As I said, it’s the single most important component of our faith, upon which all else hinges.

We joyfully proclaim to BELIEVE that Jesus Christ did in fact rise from the grave.  He was dead, buried, and rose on the third day.

But how often do we really, seriously contemplate the impact of what we are claiming to believe?

Because… think about it.  It is an astonishing claim.

It is a outlandish claim.

It is a radical claim.

That a man predicted he would be killed, and then come back to life after three days.  And in predicting these events and then doing so, he proved HE WAS GOD.

This is NOT a claim to make lightly.

Still with me?  Still believe?

Good.

Let that sink in a moment.

And once the gravity of that claim, of that belief, has sunk in, allow yourself time to reflect on the following question, which Jesus himself asked of his followers in Luke 6:46.

“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?”

Think about that question.

If we truly believe what we claim to believe, do we live our lives as such?

If not, why not?