EASTER DAY

During the last few weeks, people have been asking each other: ‘What are you doing for Easter?’. We know what they mean; and that they are really asking: ‘Are you going away over Easter, or staying at home?’
 
If the words of the question are turned around; there is a dramatic change of meaning; away from secular holidays; to the spiritual challenge that Easter offers. The question then becomes. ‘What is Easter doing for you?’
 
The new question becomes a deep-down enquiry: that requires a deep-down response. However, many people are used to questions being asked at the surface-level; and to giving expected answers, at that same level.
 
A man had an appointment with his doctor. At the surgery, he saw an old friend sitting in the waiting room. He said: ‘Hello! Fancy seeing you after all this time. How are  you?’ To which his friend replied: ‘Fine, thanks! Just fine! Never felt better’; and did not reveal the serious condition from which he was suffering.
 
People often speak as though they are in one situation; while, all along; they are in another and rather different one.
 
A common example is that of people saying that: ‘Life's what you make it; isn't it?’ just as though they were in control of life's situations and events: while, all along, they complain about how things have got on top of them; that they cannot cope; and so on. Are they making of life what they want of it; or aren't they? And what about us? How are we doing?
 
Even at its very best, ‘life is what you make it' is a rather spurious philosophy that has been of no help at all in the life of the Church.
 
Vast numbers of otherwise sensible Christian people, have got the idea that, if only they keep busy doing something, they will become something; the hoped-for 'something', being more meaningful spiritual experience.
 
The attitude of desire is, of course, right; but the approach to achieving it is sadly wrong, and ineffective. To want to become truly 'spiritually alive in the Lord', is wonderful, but Christ himself taught that things could not be done our way; but only in his way. He said:
 
‘All that flesh can do, is to give birth to flesh. It is the Spirit that gives birth to spirit. The Spirit of God gives life’. (John 6: 63).
 
In many ways, God says to us: ‘Forget doing things, in the hope of achieving something; for your own experience proves that your way doesn't work.
Instead, become something; become renewed by my Spirit, which is my gift to you; and yours will be the joy of uplifting, ongoing experience.
 
Whenever the worldly philosophy: 'Life is what you make it’, is found within the Church; it should be made to give way to the spiritual understanding that: ‘Life is what God makes it for you: if you allow him to do so.
 
 Jesus said, and still says: ‘I came that you might have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10.) What did he mean, in saying this? As we grow older, and, hopefully, wiser: we know that he was speaking about new and spiritual life, which we were not born with, but into which we must be re-born.
 
In ordinary, worldly terms, 'Life is what You make it’ means doing the best that we can, with what we've got. But all that we are born with; all that the world can give us: can take us only so far. It can teach us traditions about God; and create concepts of spirituality in our minds; and a desire to know more, but that is all that it can do.
 
In extra-ordinary, born-in-the-Spirit terms; we know that it is only the Lord Jesus Christ, who can take us farther, in the journey of the soul. He offers his ‘Not as the world gives, do I give to you’ invitation, to receive spiritual life from him ...
 
... so that, in receiving it, we may be carried far beyond traditions about God, beyond ideas about spirituality; into an experience of the Lord; and to a relationship with him, that has new depths of meaning.
 
'Life is what You make it'; says the world all around; but we know better than that! Wise Christians receive all that the Father offers; through Jesus Christ; in the power of the Holy Spirit: so that mercy, love and grace; effectiveness, fulfilment and joy; might be experienced and shared.
 
At John 17:3, Jesus said: ‘This is eternal life; to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’.
 
In Jewish thinking of that day; and ever since, in the Christian Church; it is clear that the words ‘to know you’ mean far more than mere head knowledge, as in 'knowing about' certain things.  The words mean ‘to experience’.
 
The teaching from John 17.3, takes on its full meaning, as it says: ‘This is eternal life, to experience you; the only true God; and to experience Jesus Christ whom you have sent’.
 
In the light of this teaching, from Christ himself, we can ask: ‘How might those who have never progressed beyond words about God; be helped and encouraged towards actual experience of his close presence?’
In one of his 'Letters to Timothy’ St. Paul tells his young friend to: ‘Take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called’. (1.Tim.6:12).
 
The world says: ‘Life is what you make it’. You make the best you can, out of what you've got, and that's all there is to it.
 
Not so!’ says the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘I came that you might have life; and have it to the full’.
 
Amen!’ says St. Paul; then he makes it clear that eternal life is not something which we earn, but something to which we are called; and is Christ's gift to us, as we turn to him.
 
What is given has to be held on to; firmly; if it is to accomplish all that God wills of it, and all that we desire of it.
 
True spiritual life permeates our whole being: touching and blessing us, in the deep places of our minds, and bodies: promoting every good quality, and bringing wholeness about.
 
Those who are, already, re-born into new life in Christ; may feel the need to be refreshed; and we can ask the Lord to do this for us now, on Easter Day; this special time of new beginnings.
 
Where we believe that we can encourage and help others, to enter into new life in Christ; then let us not hesitate to do so; for, as the Bible makes clear...
 
...the fulfilment of what God did for the world; on Good Friday, and Easter Day; is to be found in each individual life which thankfully accepts Jesus, as the way forward, in the Christian adventure.
 
There is a saying that: ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’ to which we can add: ‘Mine is not going to be what I make it...
…‘Instead, it is going to be what God makes it; through the Lord Jesus Christ; as he leads me to spiritual fulfilment for myself; and to the effective service of others; according to his will, not mine’.  Amen.