“People react to the glory of God in you, not to you.” When a visiting pastor from Iran shared that, I scribbled it on my bulletin. He then posed two questions: (1) Do our lives invite others to know God as we demonstrate our faith by looking at our circumstances through an eternal lens and not a worldly one? (2) Has the garbage in our souls been recycled into something beautiful, strengthening our faith and drawing others to Christ?
Easter Sunday soon will be upon us. Russell Stover stock will rise as chocolate lovers empty the candy shelves. Plastic eggs (Are those still legal, or are they now made of paper?) will be filled with jelly beans, coins and confetti; family buffets will be scheduled and churches will be packed. We will stand and sing worship songs about Jesus’ exiting the tomb and celebrate that we too can partake in new life if we accept that he died on the cross to pay for our sins. Many will walk the aisle excitedly and profess “Yes, Yes, I want that” as they begin their Christian walk. We who have already made that declaration will clap and some, like me, will tear up.
But for many, the joy of that profession will be lost somewhere along their journey. The bad junk of the world will inhabit their hearts, and they will forget that God stands by, ready to recycle that garbage so their unexplainable joy points others to Him. This is not new to our generation. God established that trash-recyclables substitution with Jesus’ death 2000+ years ago.
Think about it. The cross certainly wasn’t joyful, but what was accomplished through it —Jesus’ victory over death– was. He made something ugly into something beautiful: Resurrection Sunday. The message to us is life-changing: For every Friday of suffering for the believer, there is a Resurrection Sunday ahead. The choice is ours: We can stay on the cross or exit the open tomb.
Does that mean our troubling circumstances immediately disappear?
Not necessarily. But, if we keep our eyes on our Heavenly Father, we will find it much easier to find our garbage recycled into something spiritual. In the Old Testament, Isaiah prophetically reminds us of how the (then) future Messiah will turn our trash into triumph: …he will bestow on them a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. (Is. 61:3)
Wow! Should we choose to leave our “tomb,” we are promised beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning and praise instead of heaviness. I pray that this Easter, amidst the egg hunts and buffet dinners, we all take time to understand the choice set before us. The choice for life and not death. The choice to be uplifted and not downtrodden. The choice to make a difference, remembering that now–and every day—people are watching.
Happy Easter, Everyone!