Easter Sunday 2017

Easter 2017

Why did he do it? (Seeing the heart of another matters)

One of the things that makes me scratch my head on Easter Sunday is, why?  Why would Jesus do this?  What is his the reason or his purpose?  Why we do things often says more than words and actions.  The way our heart moves matters.

If you are married and your spouse comes home and says to you, “You know what, I was on my way home and I just felt the need to stop off and get you something.  I picked up the flowers you like, and these premium chocolates.”  Then they give you a big hug and a big kiss and says “I just want you to know I love you.”  What is your first reaction?  Shock, and wonder.  You would probably be thinking, “What did you do or what did you buy.“  Right?  You figure there is probably a new boat in the driveway, a new car on the way or something else that you are afraid to imagine, but oh boy is your head trying to figure it out because something must be up.

On the other hand, if your wife (Sorry ladies) goes shopping and the first thing she says to you when she gets back is, “Can you guess how much money I saved today?”  Are you excited about how much money she saved?  No.  (Personally, I have heard that phrase quite a bit in my marriage.)  On the inside you are starting to freak out because she is telling you the good side of the story first.  What are you buttering me up for here?

Why we do things matters more than our words and actions.  The way our heart moves matters.

My son is 3 and my daughter is 7.  They have just entered the phase where they drive each other nuts, and drag their mother and I along for the ride.  I was hoping they would get along wonderfully for ever.  I was hoping to live a Leave it to Beaver kind of life.  They just annoy each other all day.  They complain all the time that one does not play the right way.  They mess each others stuff up. They even mess up my stuff too.  Not Mom’s so much.  I think they both know better.  The one time they are consistently nice to each other is first thing in the morning.  Morgan gets Alec a drink of juice.  Alec says, ‘thank you Morgan’ and they both eat reasonably quietly together most mornings.  If you come to my place in the morning you would likely say, “Wow your kids really do love each other.  Look at that.”  But why they are behaving this way makes all the difference.  Alec does not want to do anything in the morning.  He just wants his sister, or Dad on occasion, to get him what he wants so he can play Lego’s or watch T.V. in peace.  Morgan just wants her little brother to be quiet and leave her alone.

Why we do things matters more than our words and actions.  The way our heart moves matters.

When people do things for selfish reasons we are not really impressed.  However, when we see people with good, selfless reasons, – and they are doing something just for you, no strings attached, – you are seriously impressed.  If you have ever had someone do something thoughtful just for you, you will remember that.  It will stick with you for the rest of your life.  You can not forget them.  The reason was solely for you and your benefit.  This is kind of what our Family Friday ministry is all about.  The way our heart moves matters.

Years ago when Koulla and I were still living in my mother’s basement we would have friends over every Sunday afternoon.  I was working shift work at that time, and I generally did not get a lot of time with my wife or my friends.  What is worse, is I do not really like people doing things for me.  I have a really hard time receiving gifts.  This one Sunday I was exhausted and the bank account was less than full, but I still wanted my friends around. I wanted a barbeque and a beer, but I could not afford the time or money to go to the store to get the needed.  Then the door bell rang.  All of my friends arrived.  We told them we could not do what we normally do.  They said they knew, and that is why they brought the best meat they could find from the butchers and a couple of beers.  I was told to sit down this time.  They were cooking.  They did not need to do any of that.  They just did it.  I will never forget it.  It was completely selfless on their part, and it fed my soul.

When we see the heart of another, is stays with us.   The way our heart moves matters.

What was Jesus’ motivation

Jesus’s reason, the why he did what he did, with the cross and resurrection, was complete and perfect love for you.  Not just for the clergy.  Not just for the choir, the other people in robes and children.  God’s love is for each of us.  The reason he chose the cross is because he loves you.  God gave his son to the world – to you – for your benefit.  It is the ultimate action of selflessness.  It is the ultimate expression of love for us – for you.  God gave his Son –  All that God is and has Himself – for us … for you.  There is nothing that compares.  God became us, to give up his life, to free us.  Let that sink in a bit because it is amazing.

God’s love is selfless.  That is just the way it is.  That is what we get.  When we think, talk or act in Godly love we do so for the sole benefit of the other.  This also means that God’s love is given, grown and experienced through relationships.  Your relationship with God and your relationships with others.  The relationship matters because that is where love resides.

That does not mean that we will always have lovey dovey times.  No.  Does that mean that we only say things that others want to hear.  No.  There are times that love is just plain hard.  These are the times that we are called to say something true, and we will be met with resistance.  Truth is not always easy to accept and share, but it does help to build a relationship with God.  The concern is not to be right and to beat the other up with truthful reality.  At that point it is not love.  That is judgement.  This is what Jesus the Christ did for us.  Complete, full, 100% selfless love for us.  This is why Jesus freely chose the cross and resurrection.

Jesus wants to continue to restore your relationship with God.  Jesus knew you and I are broken.  Jesus knew that we have issues that separate us from God.  God took the initiative, God took the chance to correct it and fix it, so you could actually be with God again.  The stuff that drew you away from God in the past.  It is stuck in the past.  There are no time machines.  It does not matter how much good you do in the future, the past ugliness – what we call sin – will always be there.  We are all stuck with it.

Now listen to this next part.  Really dial in and listen.  Jesus did not come and say, “Get yourself right and then I will die for you fixing this whole thing.”  Instead Jesus says, “I know you are stuck and I already know you are broken.  You can’t clean yourself up, so I am going to take care of it for you.”  That is the way it works because that is the way God’s love works.  First we go to God the way we are, not the way we want to be.  We often think, “I better clean myself up first and then get to God.”  Or more the more popular, “I better get my act together before I can go to church.”  That is backwards.  No.  First, we go to God, just as we are, and then we get straightened out.  We celebrate Easter because our relationship with God is restored.

If there is a part of you that still thinks there is a wall between you and God, then Easter Day, today is the day that the wall is removed.  You and I can truly call God your friend because of the resurrection.  We are even called sons and daughters as part of his family.

The other thing he did was to give you a purpose.  God knows that we can not take our stuff with us when we die.  So if you have been playing a really great game of, “who ever has the most toys at the end wins.” I got bad news for you.  That is a life filled with hopelessness.  Jesus gives you something to live for.  Not only does Jesus die for us to restore our relationship with him, but we are given a new purpose that matters in this life and the next too.  In a real, tangible way we are new people with new lives.  God offers each of us this chance.  It does not matter who you are or what you’ve done, or what has happened to you, God is offering a chance at a new start.  Right here.  Right now.  God has already taken those things in the past away and started you out new.

God has given us the job of helping others reconcile with God.  Our purpose is to help others restore their relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  We speak for Christ when we invite others to come back to God, or when we lovingly speak truth.  This is our purpose.  This is your purpose.  This is amazing and it is powerful.  Without the resurrection, we do not have this.

The life, death and resurrection is a gift presented to you.  It is a gift that Jesus put out there for each of us … for you personally.  The reason behind it is infinite and unbelievable love for you.  The purpose is to give you a chance at a more God filled life which is a chance at the most robust full life imaginable.  Easter marks that day that are all given a shot at a new life, to start over.  That is why we are all here.  Take this gift.  Let go of the old, comfortable, painful life and exchange it for the life that God wants to give you.  The resurrection gives life meaning, direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what the circumstances.  This is the reason Jesus chose the cross and resurrection and it is reason to be joyful too.  Christ is Risen!  The Lord is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!