While primarily recognized as a Christian Holiday, Easter has a preceding origin and is not a Holiday exclusive to those of the Christian Faith.
Though a sincere inquiry will find preceding references to the Spring Solstice, ancient connections to other worship, and even a reference to Passover, they all seem to share a theme synonymous with a “Newness of Life.”
This is why the Christian Faith has such a direct connection to Easter as the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the culminating event of a newness of life offering to Christian believers thru the atonement of Christ, which is celebrated at Easter.
As a celebratory event, Easter is recognized by many people whether based on religious bias, the renewal of life around us via the blooming Springtime season, or the just the Easter egg hunts, chocolate eggs and bunnies that adorn the accompanying baskets for children.
Indeed, to say Easter is only a Christian Holiday is incomplete. The Easter Audience is not limited to proclaimed Christians any more than the Super Bowl limits the audience to an audience of any one team. Quite the opposite. As the Super Bowl draws a wider and more expansive audience than just one of the team’s participating. This is true for Easter, as church attendance peaks, and non-church goers may have exposure to the season through other activities. The comfort and security that many fall into at times (including myself) create the need to be reminded of this. Indeed a cornerstone tenant of Easter for the Christian is that “God so loved the world…” not just us.
As a member of the Christian faith, in today’s busy world of technology, the phrase “Hey Siri, set a reminder for Easter” was a thought one day. Thinking upon that, I realized, I didn’t need a reminder for the Holiday itself, but often of some more detailed remembrances that should be present in my life as a result of the holiday. The following concepts came to mind which we “have been given an example to follow.“ These are examples that will enrich the lives of everyone and yet for the Christian community, there is a direct call from the Exemplar to “follow me” in these teachings. They are:
“The Truth Will Set You Free,” regardless of any faith, religious bias, or lack thereof.
This may sound almost blasphemous to Christians since Jesus said this along with the declaration that He is the Truth. Let me explain. While the freedom in Christ for the Christian is 100%, the wisdom of Christ and the fact that God so loved the world, states the universal Law of the truth setting us free by our own choices as we exercise our own free will and tell the truth.
When we lie, mislead others or even hide things, it hampers us and our abilities by the need to perpetuate a cover-up and also by the lingering distractions. In essence, the result often places us under the control of guilt, self-doubt or fear and keeps your “light under a bushel” rather than you having the peace and confidence to share it with others. Often the hindrances opposing us are not even our acts, but acts of another that we are lumped into it under the fallacy of “guilt by association.”
The Apostle Peter was one who experienced an attempt to be swayed from what he was doing by having “guilt by association” thrust upon him. Remember his being questioned and stated by others as being “one of his (Jesus) disciples” when following the Christ after his apprehension in the garden? In today’s environment, we hear things like “her husband did this,” leaving her judged wrongfully. Or when a prominent leader or celebrity may do something, and the entire organization is lumped together and thought of differently.
I’ll share a couple of specific examples beginning with myself. I am mortal, imperfect and face the same age-old challenges as that of David of old in their varying forms. In our day, they may present themselves in different ways, yet the issues are the same. Because of my challenges, I’ve had many actions in my past that may not be congruent with who I am today, or that may have been hurtful to others, disqualifying to them from hearing anything I have to say. But that is my past. I had to come to the point of realizing that was my past, and be truthful about my now. Owning my past, but not being tied to it, before I was ever comfortable sharing many of the lessons I have learned which may now benefit others, such as this text. This realization is designed for us to have the perspective to not condemn others but to be the vessel used to give them the love and support we know in their times of need.
Of much higher visibility and impact than myself, I offer the following examples as a tribute to their honesty and the many they are helping by not hiding their light after such challenges. I only mention them by name because I have personally benefited tremendously by their examples and want you to know the truth of this concept of which they are great examples as they have touched millions of people in a positive way.
Lysa Terkeust is a lady that has faced challenges, medically and family & relationship struggles as well. As an Author and leader of a ministry, she shared her medical battles with others showing them they were not alone and her perspective helps others in the same situation. As a public figure, she also shared more personal events pertaining to her and her family relationships to which many gossiped and spoke out of place missing her pain as they “cast the stones” of attempted “guilt by association.” Lysa shared the truth of her experiences and the hurt of working thru them. There were many others with that same experience who now had companionship, perspective and a direction of a possible path forward for good to come of their situation, because Lysa shared her truth and led by example undaunted rather than retreating her light under a bushel.
WM Paul Young, an Author, wrote a unique book called “The Shack.” The story helped many to have hope and understanding in the events and existence that often don’t seem to make any sense at all. If you look into his biography, he openly shared many challenges and events that had he not chosen the path of truth, would have left his story unwritten. The book also became a movie and reached an even further audience. He and his story have also positively touched millions.
OMISSIONS and COMMISSIONS
“Omission and Commission” is another something to remember, the things we do and the things we don’t do, are two different methods Christians are told to consider. “To him, that knows to do good and doeth it not; it is a sin.” Omitting the forgiving of one’s self will keep us stuck with our light under a bushel. We will have a heavy heart and usually achieve less than reaching our full potential and happiness. It can often be harder and require more effort to forgive ourselves and move forward that it does to forgive others. Yet referring to the examples above, it may be more important to many others that we find the courage to do so and share our stories rather than “hide our light under a bushel.”
For the non-Christian, it is the equivalent of “your choices determine your destiny.” Without committing to certain actions and behaviors while eliminating others, you won’t reach your goals. Many times, the things we don’t do can have as big an impact as the things we do.
Help yourself get it right automatically.
As a Christian example, look no farther than the Reverend Billy Graham. In spite of the many evangelists who over the years came in contact with scandals of improper relationships with women, thus destroying them by what they “committed”, or failed to “omit”, and also often hurt their congregations, and followers by the “guilt by association” we discussed, yet Billy Graham avoided that. Early in his life he made the decision early on to automate his choices of commission and omission by “committing” never to be alone with a woman other than his wife, thus “omitting” any possibility for the appearance of impropriety. Genius.
On a more practical scale today for everyone to use, Benjamin Hardy in his book “Willpower doesn’t work”, discusses this principle. Paraphrased, he states that will power will not always work, so we should take willpower out of the equation by removing the need for it and create success in the areas you can. So in my case as a chocoholic, some nights I’ll have the will power to avoid the Oreos and other nights I may not. If I remove the Oreos from my house, my success in not eating them is automatic. My willpower is not even challenged. We can apply this principle in many different ways and areas of our lives.
Divisions are abundant among us. Labels, of belief systems, ethnicity, gender, affiliations, preferences, organizations and even teams we cheer for have the ability to separate us if not held under the restraint of the bigger picture that we are all human and Gods creations. For the Christian, remember” God so loved the world,” meaning each person in it.
There is a synergy formed by unity and eliminating division. You can feel it in a large crowd cheering on a specific sports team, or a concert crowd in the same place cheering the band on stage.
We often allow divisions among us to reduce our energy, personal potential and happiness of connection by recognizing the differences between us rather than building on what is common between us.
Many religious organizations worship the same God- even being like-minded in the role of Jesus Christ. Yet they differ and divide based on “what are the proper methods to worship him?” I’ve witnessed division and distancing of relationships based on “is music to be a part of worship or not” between people. “They can’t wear that to worship,” referring to Dress code? These were sources of division that alienated people rather than building on the common blessings and beliefs they shared.
Our exemplar always loved the person. A quick reference to whom he dined with, called as followers, visited and performed his miracles upon testifies this and provides an example to
Give love, Practice forgiveness, demonstrate compassions…
Unfortunately, Religious bias and other perspectives sometimes overshadow the opportunities of love and service. Some groups, affiliation and labels often create subdivisions when they don’t always have to be. Yes there are examples of differing beliefs and priorities between groups and people, yet there is a commonness available to be found in that we are all children of God, or for the non-believer, we are all in this together. For Christians, reflect on the “calling out” of Scribes and Pharisees, or the treatment of the woman at the well to see this in action. Our exemplar provided record of unity and compassion from varying persons, and activities. We have our own versions of Scribes, Pharisees, and also those in need of understanding and assistance, like the woman at the well in our day also.
By letting the truth set us free, not hiding our lights, sharing with others, selecting what we choose to omit and commit, then overcoming the divisions in our life, we can find our own purpose, path, and fulfillment.
This is often very difficult. Even after finding the preceding recipe for it, we sometimes get stressed and distraught over the timing. As a Christian, we may still want it now. Yet we read, “that vision is for yet an appointed time” and several other examples telling us we’ll have to wait. There are references referring to retribution for evil, where Paul refers to “a cup of wrath” being filled up with the deeds of evildoers, yet the cup is not yet full. There are also references to the act of salvation not culmination for many until an appointed time in the future.
Other than recognizing timing, sometimes recognizing our purpose itself is a challenge often caused by an unnoticed self-absorption. I was taught this, this past week as I saw someone wearing a jacket with the words on the back, “Don’t waste your prayers on me.”
As I pondered that and spoke with them, I understood they had their belief system and perspective. In a position of having their mind made up on certain things, they proclaimed “Don’t waste your prayers on me.” How do you define waste, was my question? In their case, it was a waste because it was doing something that they didn’t want- praying. They are entitled to have that belief but think for a minute.
This stance is only their perspective. Perhaps the one doing the praying received benefit and fulfillment from the act of praying goodwill for another. For that person doing the praying the act of praying not a waste. It was only a waste to the person wearing the jacket. Because it is a waste to us, does not make it a waste to everyone.
On our own scales, we may not recognize the importance and value of the roles we play.
In today’s glamorized, reality television, society, not every role is one of fame or loftiness. Critical and important roles go unpublicized and regularly unrecognized, such as the role of Mother, Father, roles of service and teaching.
Many of us are looking for a purpose based on the hype in our world, when our true purpose may already be in front of us. It may be something as simple yet meaningful as being a mother, father or child, and your being such may mean the world to others and give them renewed purpose.
When we follow the recipe noted above, we will be more open to seeing this. Sometimes we need that change in perspective to recognize our individual value and contribution along with that of those around us.
A bottle of water may not mean much to you now, but if your perspective was different, such as you were in parching desert heat for days with no sign of water in sight, the same bottle of water takes on a different meaning. What was wasted in the past now has importance.
We all learn at a different pace and often in different ways.
We all learn at different paces and in different ways. Some require personal experiences; others can learn by hearing the teachings of others.
The existence of perspectives and growth is exemplified:
For Christians, we read about the parable “sifting of Wheat and tares” and also “being fed by the milk then the meat” of the word as we grow. Because we learn at varying paces, we are also told to have patience with others as well as ourselves.
Look no further than the parable of the “beam and the mote in the eyes” to be reminded that we all have issues to contend with, and scale them by our own prejudices. Which issues depend on where we are in our journey? Are we feasting on the milk or the meat of the word? Are we in the season of serving or being served? Just as the “don’t pray for me” jacket was a selfish perspective, the often well-intentioned desire to be independent is as well. How can there be an act of service rendered without one to be served or receive it?
We must realize sometimes we are a part of things that are not about us.
A hidden seed of pride that has us thinking it is about us, may have us in this place, and we may miss our purpose in that season as being the one that should be served. By doing so, we rob another and may even become a stumbling block.
The message is often different than the messenger:
We are all subject to universal laws. Gravity as an example – we learn these laws and principles from various places- scripture, parents, and other persons such as various religious leaders, self-help or inspirational authors
We must remember that the message is often different than the messenger.
If Adolf Hitler for example or any historically known non-revered person proclaimed the law of gravity to us, the message is still true despite whether we approve of the messenger or not. Though Christians have several examples of this, it is a truth that all can benefit from.
This need to differentiate the message from the messenger while not losing sight of truth or law is exemplified several times for the Christian.
Satan tempted Christ with words of Scripture several times during his forty days of being tempted. Knowing the message, which in this case was misrepresented by the messenger, was the shining example we received here.
On another occasion, a disciple (Peter) offers input and well-intended protection to the Savior, which has limited perspective and was not the bigger picture need. He was by Jesus, “Get thee behind me Satan.” Notice the good messenger, with good intentions, yet the need to discern the message in context for the designated purpose overall.
Technology, a facilitator or a hindrance?
It has the power to be both and is what you make it.
This text began with reference to technology, “Hey Siri” so I must address the risk of technology. It is only a facilitator, meaning and can help us achieve something. That something can be aligned with our goals and purpose, or it may become something that detracts us from them. Technology can become our slave master rather than working for us as we fail to recognize the time spent engulfed in it at the exclusion of relationships and the time lost thru it being a distraction from productive and needful tasks of greater importance. It may withdraw us from loved ones and our real purpose.
With all the good ways technology can be used, the truth is that the home is no longer a fortress as radio waves, television, internet, and other signals penetrate our walls directly to the multiple edge devices- most commonly the smartphones directly in our hands.
This can even turn well-meaning communication into “get thee behind me Satan” moments. Mothers, fathers, and children need uninterrupted time to be together and nurture each of their relationships. There needs to be personal interaction and attention paid to the person on a regular basis. That doesn’t happen when a harmless text from a friend or coworkers leaps into the midst of our homes former private seclusion. Or when an email, phone or instant message comes in to interrupt a planned activity or date night. Yes, there are appropriate times for these, and they are not bad things on their own. At the wrong time however, technologies can interrupt or prevent the very time and activity needed to strengthen the most important relationships you have. This is an area we need to strongly manage and set ourselves and our environment up for success.
We must act and “commit” to this, or the act of “omission” will deliver unwanted consequences.
Love is the answer.
This reminder I began to share has rambled into a related link that have now spanned longer than intended, yet it all culminates in this. Love is the answer.
When we truly love our family, we want that close uninterrupted time with them.
The same is true for each relationship, husband and wife, parent and child, a friend, and so on.
The principles of love are the same. Love will empower us to do, when we have it, and it will us hold back from and make us fear when we lack it. This includes love for ourselves.
Love is consistent, yet its expressions may be different depending on the relationship.
Love toward a romantic interest may be expressed with activities of romance and passion. Love of a Parent for a child may be expressed in nurture and protection. We all have varying relationships that need to have love expressed as it pertains to that relationship on a regular basis.
Love provides understanding and empathy. “Look not everyone upon their own things, but also upon the things of others.” We should walk in the newness of life” when we are loved.
Christians often think of the parable of talents as exactly that, what we did with the talents God gave us (money or abilities). In principle, you can substitute love, and forgiveness in place of the Talents to have a synonymous and appropriate Parable. When you receive love and forgiveness, you should multiply it, pay it forward. This is the example we are taught and also congruent with all other teachings that we will sow what we reap, and so on.
God is love, and perfect love casts out fear. Love teaches us acceptance and tolerance for others even if they may not think exactly like us and as we encounter those in a different place of this journey we are all on together.
When we are tempted to judge or condemn, we are reminded “and such were some of you” to help us recognize we are at different places in this journey.
Love is the answer in all these things.
“We love him because he first loved us.” He has “left us an example to follow.” An example of acceptance, longsuffering, and patience as I find my way and has reminded me to do the same.
At Easter and all year round I may need these reminders, so “Hey Siri, set a reminder for Easter.”
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