It seems to me, we should heed the good news today, on Easter Sunday, and self examine to improve the sad state of our world. Despite the fact we as human beings are blessed by the blood of Jesus Christ, freely spilled for the atonement of our sins, we can’t muster the compassion to even tolerate our fellows. Selfishness, envy and vengefulness are the primary emotions people feel today towards others. We take our salvation for granted while most of us wallow in the sin of presumption. On this day of celebration, of what Jesus did for us, maybe we should at least try to follow his example, for this one day. Open your heart to compassion, forgiveness and generosity. It is easy to see the mote in the eye of another, while it is difficult to visualize the plank in our own eye, but the sliver that is most vexing to us is always our own. How much violence, overt and subvert is happening, in the name of selfishness, envy and vengefulness… needs to happen on this day of miracles?
Easter is when we celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after dying horribly to atone for our sins. Everyone is allowed to be granted his grace… all we need do is accept it. It is said that in the garden of Gethsemane, the greatest trial Jesus had, was that many would not be saved. It wasn’t his own pending torture and humiliation that bothered him… but that his torturers might not be saved! Imagine the humility, love, compassion and generosity that Jesus has for us. His is the example we are asked to follow. Clearly, if we are to follow Jesus we must also be generous to the less fortunate, compassionate to others, love our neighbors and humble in our good fortune. To follow our savior is not to be self righteous, haughty, or demanding like the pharisees, never expecting from others that which we would never give, and certainly not exploiting violence to force others to submit.
The sin of presumption is the sin of our age. Everyone thinks him or herself saved no matter if they work tirelessly against the teachings of Jesus. We believe ourselves such good people, because after all, my sins are not THAT bad, that no matter if we accept Jesus or not, we will go to heaven. We presume that we are so important that God would never condemn us, no matter how vociferously we condemn him. Ask any atheist who is intent on turning our children from Jesus and God, “What if you are wrong and God does exist?” They will smugly tell you that if God does exist, he should be big enough to let them into heaven… presuming they are far too important to go to Hell. This logic fails to understand that none of us are worthy of heaven, our toll was paid for us, by Jesus, with his blood and pain. Unless we accept him into our hearts… we refuse that free ride.
Many have claimed they serve God while they visit violence on others, envy, seek revenge for no harm, enslave the poor, and demand from others that which they themselves would be loathe to give. Someone who harms others in the name of God is not doing it in his name but in actuality in the name of Satan. To serve God and Jesus is to follow the Golden rule. To serve Lucifer is to eschew the golden rule in favor of rule by violence. Christianity has been sullied by people who claimed to serve God, when in fact they served themselves, and exploit God to their selfish ends. Is it logical that someone follows Jesus when they do the exact opposite of what he would do in any given situation? On the other hand, how disingenuous is it when someone who despises God and Jesus, demands others submit, by appealing to the authority of Jesus?
Our world is fallen and that is why Jesus came in the first place. We are flawed in that we seek our own good above all others, are egoistic, prideful, vengeful and lack basic compassion. We faithlessly believe that it is generous to force others to give, at the point of a gun, while we wouldn’t give a beggar a penny. It is the opposite of love to husband hate in our hearts. We spit in the face of our savior when we presume that no matter how we work against God… we will go to heaven. There is wisdom in recognizing our own flaws, and working on them, rather than demanding others change. To protest the state of the world, even as we wallow in our sins without any mind to self improvement, is the definition of arrogance. So, follow Jesus, harbor compassion in your heart, constantly strive to self improvement, love your neighbors and enemies, and hold yourself to the same standard you hold others. It is very difficult, since it goes against our egoistic nature, but rewarding in ways that transcend the ordinary. Have a blessed Easter and may God be with you.