Columbia, SC — Someone once said that a sure-fire way to start a new religion is to die — and then come back to life. I haven’t tried that, because I hear it doesn’t work for most of us.
Thankfully, there was one exception, and this weekend Christians will celebrate it. The resurrection of Jesus, his ascension to Heaven and then his filling of believers by his spirit have set hearts afire for God ever since. Thus a religion got started, with its most precious celebration on tap this weekend.
As with everything of Jesus, there is a beautiful “huh?” involved. Jesus wasn’t about establishing a religion. He was about setting human hearts afire. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” he said (John 10:10).
Christianity 101 tells us he died so that we might live. His blood shed instead of our own. A unique twist on religion.
Christianity 202 tells us that in order to get this full life he promised, we too have to die first. Huh? As we’re told, “all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” (Romans 6:3).
So Christians this weekend celebrate not only his death but our own. Interesting tenet of a religion, you could say. But not an ordinary physical death, which we’ll all experience one day, whether we accept Jesus as Lord or not. We’re dying with, and through, him. That means death to our own plans, death to this world.
And most importantly, death to our sin.
That’s the death he calls us to, in this religion. He prepared the altar, his own body, and we need only provide the sacrifice, all our sin.
I’m not sure how those sugary bunny and duck Peeps fit into all that. I will enjoy them still. But this I know: Easter declares the freedom through death that really makes us alive, both here on Earth and forever with Jesus.
What a religion. I invite you: Come die this weekend.