Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easter Reflections

The ship has really been buzzing with preparations for Easter. Over the last week we have had special Easter movies playing, coloring of eggs and special times of prayer and reflection. We will have a Good Friday service, more activities on Saturday and Easter Sunday will start with a sunrise service on the bow of the ship, followed by a special brunch and then open cabins in the evenings. Open cabins is just a time when crew members serve some food or dessert and allow people to come and go and visit cabins as they like. It reminds me of being home during holidays, house hopping and seeing all of my family and eating everywhere I go :)

Even with all of these fun activities and events going on the leadership on the ship always points us back to the importance of Easter. I appreciate that because with all of these fun options, working, spending time with friends, connecting with family and friends at home it is easy to forget that this holiday is about something so much bigger, greater and more joyful than anything else.

I know what you are thinking. Of course we all know that Easter is about Jesus's resurrection but do we really understand the weight of that? Do we really understand what all of that means? I was hesitant to write a blog about Easter because lets be honest I'm no theologian, history buff or bible scholar but when I really thought about it I realized how much we over complicate things some time. Easter is about love. Not the conditional, false, lust, greedy, selfish, and proud love that the world and us flawed human beings offer but a different kind of love. A step down from heaven, leave all of His glory, sacrificial, serving, humble, extravagant, unconditional and patient kind of love.

"Because, if we do not, we shall be relying on human beings. And that is going to let us down. The best of them will makes mistakes; all of them will die. We must be thankful to all the people who have helped us, we must honor them and love them. But never, never pin your whole faith on any human being; not if he is the best and wisest in the whole world. The are lots of nice thing you can do with sand; but do not try building a house on it." C.S. Lewis

I can only imagine what some of you are thinking now. Christians are loving? What about all that stuff I see on the news about Christians saying hateful and demeaning things about other races, religions, politicians and humans of different sexual orientations? I'm not naive friends I see and understand what goes on in this world. Here is where things get tricky. I can't really stand up for these Christians. I can't justify their actions or words. I have no good answer except for what the Bible tells me and that is

" This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3:22-24

Please do not take this as me justifying or saying that the way Christians and the church in the past have treated other people is right. It is not right. This is where pride and sin come in. Pride says I'm a good person, I don't sin, I'm kind, loving and generous to other people, I love my family and serve my community. I don't need somebody to save me or help me. When you see the word sinful I don't want you to think of a laundry list of things that we do wrong or of a God up in heaven throwing lightning bolts down at you and waiting for you to fail. I simply want you to think of being separate or not in harmony with Christ. Those actions, and that laundry list of sin is what causes separation and a broken relationship with Christ. Religion is all about traditions and what you have to do in order to get right with God. Religion says do this, that and the other thing and then you will finally be right with God. God says you don't have to do anything. I did everything, I took away the need for you to strive and do anything the day that I died on the cross and rose three days later. After that day there no longer needs to be a separation in the relationship between God and man. But he gives us a choice. He doesn't want to force us to be in a relationship with Him. He stands with arms open wide ready for the day we say Lord I need you. I receive your love.

I know what you are thinking now. What do I get out of this relationship? Why do I want to be in a relationship with God? First and fore mostly it gives you eternal life. It gives you a guarantee that the day you die you will spend eternity with God in heaven. But does heaven and hell actually exist? If it doesn't exist then why did I need this relationship with God?

More than just a ticket to heaven this relationship with God gives you an abundant life here on earth. I didn't say perfect. I didn't say it would be without pain, suffering, and heartache but walking through this life with Christ gives you strength, wisdom, boldness and a reason to love and live in a way that you never thought possible.

" The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

" He didn't just come to save you from your sins he came to save you from yourself. He came to save us from who we could be apart from his grace. He didn't just come to save you from something. He came to make you into somebody. When we let go of this old life and person and we invite him into our lives He takes us and makes us into something that we could never be on our own." Pastor Jeremy Zeigler

I'm going to spend this Easter reflecting on the fact that who am I today is only by the grace and love of Christ Jesus. I know that I will be missing friends and family this Sunday but I pray that each one of you has a great Easter and takes time to reflect on this great love that God has lavished upon us all.

Here are some helpful links if you want to hear more about this topic.

Although I am currently serving with Mercy Ships, everything communicated here strictly reflects my personal opinions and is neither reviewed nor endorsed by Mercy Ships. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Mercy Ships