On the day that should bring Christians the most hope and joy, I find myself a bit troubled. Not troubled over what we are celebrating mind you. For that I greatly rejoice. The resurrection represents hope and power of the God of this universe who sent his Son to reconcile man to himself. Christ is risen, has expunged the penalty of sin and sits at the Father’s right hand.
But every year as this day approaches, I find a divisiveness exists in his body. The same body that he prayed for in his high priestly prayer;
My prayer is not for them alone (the apostles), I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, just as you and I are Father. May they also believe in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21)
While all true believers celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, something creeps in to temper and even hinder that celebration together. This body that Christ calls one experiences tensions over the one day that should unite them.And it hinges on the use of one word – Easter.
For some this conjures up images of pagan worship. Some cannot even accept the term or fully enjoy discussions about the resurrection if it is referred to as Easter. I see it every year on blog posts and in conversations. I’ve heard believers indicate that they don’t even celebrate Easter. Mention it and distraction ensues from the very message it represents – the hope that resurrection brings.
Time does not permit me to expound on the origins of the name and hopefully I can write more on this next year. But the reality is that the church has always associated the term Easter with the resurrection of Christ. In fact, the origins in pagan worship is nebulous and evidence exists that the church actually perpetuated the traditional relics of Easter – eggs and bunnies as teaching tools for catechesis. Yes, a teaching tool to instruct about the one true God. How is that different from tools used today? It’s not. Here is an interesting article on the topic.
Regardless of the how the term came to be, I think the more important reality is that it represents the resurrection of our Lord. That is what is meant when the term is used and how the church has always used it. That is what the world knows also. Those who don’t know Christ associate it with his resurrection. So imagine what happens when we make waves about the term and indicate it is not Christian.
I’ve heard some believers say that it confuses the world when we adopt the pagan relics of Easter. No, actually I think it confuses the world when we become divisive about the term. It’s bad enough that we have the denominational and doctrinal fracturing that we do. But when you have one group of Christians saying that Easter is pagan worship and the majority of Christians celebrating Easter, this sends a confusing message to the world. And it sends a message to unbelievers that we are not united on the very message that does unite us. I can’t help but think that really distracts from the focus. And that is a tragedy.
And I’m grieved because I only see it as a clever trick of the enemy. He wants nothing more than to distract from the message that ensures his doom – the Christ defeated him. When we raise issues about Easter and pagan worship it creates division with one group indicating that they are somehow more enlightened and committed than those who identify the resurrection of Christ with the term Easter. This is how the enemy works against the message of Christ – by disguising himself as an angel of light. But hear Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 2:11 – that we are not unaware of Satan’s schemes. Notice the context – believers treating one brother as a lesser brother. Brothers and sisters in Christ, such should not be.
My sincere hope and prayer is that we can put the term in its proper place and recognize that Christians it means only one thing – the resurrection of Christ. I hope that we can dismiss any associations with pagan worship for the purpose of exalting Christ together and proclaiming a unified message of hope. I pray that we can stand united on this one day.
In our bodily resurrection, we’ll see just how much it mattered of the waves that are made about the term. My guess is not much. But I can’t help but think there might be a pretty big fuss about the divisions and the distraction to the gospel message.