As we enjoy the Easter weekend I have been thinking about what that this really looks like in practical terms for us as followers of Christ. I anticipate that many of us will be enjoying a day of not-so-much-rest, a church service, and gathering with family and friends for a meal and somewhere; morning, noon, or night. We may find ourselves in a conversation about eggs vs. tombs, bunnies vs. Jesus, family vs. faith, politics vs. freedom and maybe even the best way to cook a turkey, cuz hey, Thanksgiving is coming and everyone wants to deep fry a turkey at least once.
I was thinking about my own family and what conversations I have had in the past and what conversations I hope to have in the future when two verses came to mind:
1 Corinthians 15:14-19
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
My reason for believing is the historical fact that the disciples, with the exception of John, were all killed for preaching that Jesus has risen from the dead. Many people will die for what they believe to be true; no one will die for what they know to be false. The prophecies, the logic, the conclusion of an intelligent designer, the OT scriptures regarding science and health are all good; the impact of the empty tomb is the best. That is where I am compelled to go when I want to give a reason.
I also have to give a reason that someone can relate to. They can relate to me, it’s the whole “relationship” thing, so I must give an answer that is personal and meaningful, and sometimes even painfully honest and exposing. Often, my friend or family member will tolerate the conversation, as they do not want to insult me, still, they might even enjoy the conversation because they love me. The empty tomb and the humble life, this draws people to the cross.
As a book guy (my passion but not my identity), I enjoy The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis. This is a book about a wayward band of travelers who leave a bus-stop in hell, travel on a flying coach to the gates of heaven and proceed to individually converse with friends, families and even adversaries from “this lifetime.” It is a beautiful picture of these two verses. I believe, at its core, this book is about all the excuses that people give for not embracing the God that they know to exist. But, this book is also about the grace with which we must personally engage the people in our lives and through our God-given relationship with them, answer their questions of why we have hope.
So, as you head into Easter, pick up a copy of The Great Divorce. Read it. Let people know you are reading it. Tell them what it is about. Let them ask you about it and be prepared to give them your reason for why you have hope this Easter Weekend. Sunday is coming!