There are usually a quite a few more people that go to church on Christmas and Easter. I respect these people because I am the exact opposite; I do not like going to church on Easter and Christmas. There's tons of traffic and if you know me, you'll know I really don't like driving so driving when there are thousands of people going to the same place is not for me. The people that choose to go to church on the busiest days of the year, my hat's off to you.
It's not that I don't like the service, in fact, I love to hear about these two days very much. It's the beginning and the (not really but some people thought so) ending to the greatest love story ever told and if you know me, you'll know I really don't like driving and that I'm sucker for love stories.
I joined my brother and sister-in-law for Easter this year, and the pastor said something that hit me.
"As Christians, we like to say it was my sin that sent Jesus to the cross and He had to die for me. We like to steal the spot light from God and put our own name as the headline. Jesus died on the cross because God loves us, that's the headline."
He probably said it a lot more poetic and epic than I just did but the heart of his message is the same, I think.
I do say that. I do say because of MY sin, Jesus had to die for ME. I enter a religious mindset about what Jesus did without even realizing it. I think there are rules, I think that I tried really heard to be "good" enough, but I'm a sinner and my sin sent Jesus to the cross. God isn't about religion, He's about relationship. God's unending love and desire to be in a relationship with Him is what sent Jesus to the cross, not us.
In high school, my parents set curfews and wanted me to spend time with them, and I thought it was annoying, but I tried pleasing them for a while. Up until my junior year of high school, I was doing pretty good but I soon became exhausted from always feeling like I wasn't good enough no matter how hard I tried to obey them. I rebelled and things got crazy for a bit. I went to college and the rules and curfews were uplifted and I was free! I started finding myself not wanting to stay out late every night and would come home at a reasonable hour. I started spending more time with my family and not because I really wanted to but because I knew they wanted to. When it was about rules, I failed my parents. When it was about relationship, I pleased them.
I like to make my life about me.
I wanted to please my parents according to my standards. When I didn't reach them, I gave up. I didn't want to be controlled so I broke curfew.
I never once thought it was because my parents wanted to spend time with me, to have a relationship. I never once thought they wanted the best for me.
I never once thought that they provided for me, and I had the most outrageous childhood because my dad wanted to give us everything we wanted.
In the same way, I made what Jesus did for me about me. I thought I was being about God by admitting my sin and saying Jesus died for me. Like a modern day Pharisee, standing on street corners preaching the word of God so people can think I'm holy. The intentions of the Pharisee were probably good, but soon enough they made it about them and not about God. They were about religion, not about relationship.
God's love for us sent Jesus to the cross, not my sin. He wanted to be in a relationship with us so bad, He sent His son to die for us. I've been reading John 17 a lot lately. John 17 is Jesus praying right before He was betrayed and sent to the cross. In the face of the most excruciating death, this is some of what He prayed:
"Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. "
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."
God wants to know you. God loves you. Jesus wasn't sent because of my sin but because God wants to be with us, to know us.
in His grip,