This Easter I celebrated Jesus by not getting up at 5am to go to a dawn service. Jesus loved sleep and I see no better way than showing my gratitude for his love by catching some zzz’s. (No wait, that was Jesus wept.) All of course before I woke and had a breakfast feast of Chocolate Wheetos sprinkled with Cadbury’s mini eggs.
You think I am joking!
And I am.
But yesterday was the day that we spent celebrating Jesus coming back to life and offering all of us a chance to partake in a new life in him.
The chance to be part of his Kingdom and to love God and love others right here and now. The chance to have our sins forgiven and to start anew.
When we struggle consistently with sin this is the best news we can hear. The news that no matter what we have done or will do, we are free to live another way. That we are free to choose life and not death. Everyday we can come before God and ask for forgiveness. His love never ever fades.
Not just good news. But great news.
But sometimes we talk of God’s amazing, unconditional, never ending love for us in a way that actually makes it smaller than it really is. We limit it. We make it about only having our sins forgiven or about the reason we get a shot at getting into Heaven.
But isn’t there more to it than that? I mean that’s a pretty great reason for it. None of us deserve grace but yet we still get it. But I think the good news is so good because most of the time we haven’t begun to scratch the surface with Jesus.
We make the gospel sound a bit like eating pizza the day after the night before. It’s still really really amazing, but when it’s served to you freshly made in a restaurant in Chicago, it’s out of this world.
That excites me.
Jesus, not just pizza.
Say what you mean, why don’t you
I had a hard time this week with a few things. Some of my own making, some of just my own negativity and some just life’s circumstances. And I wanted to yell at God. I’d had enough and I wanted him to stop being so quiet. I’d had enough of feeling like crap when it came to him. I was frustrated and I was pissed off at God.
I’d had enough and he was doing nothing about it.
Which is why what we remember this weekend is such good news.
For me this Easter it is good news because I can be angry in front of God. I can tell him exactly how I feel.
Sometimes we overprotect God. Like he can’t handle it. A lot of the time we’re not encouraged to talk about our doubts. As if God would try and change the subject if we came to him and ask ‘Why?‘ or ‘I just don’t get it’. Sometimes we aren’t allowed to ask questions. We believe if we only pray more or just have more faith, our sin will just disappear. But doubt is not the opposite of faith, it is part of it.
So when we have doubts or anger towards God and we hide them, we aren’t being real. We’re acting like some things would get in the way of Jesus loving us.
But Jesus death and resurrection set us free from that.
It allows us to be real with the creator of the Universe.
This week I needed to remember that when Jesus died, he tore apart the separation that exists between him and us. When Jesus died, the curtain in the temple, the one that divided God from direct contact with his people, was torn in two.
This means now we don’t have to hide from God. This means now we can be open and spill our guts. Even if that means venting out to him. This means that our relationship with him is real and honest.
No more barriers.
And maybe this Easter the good news that some of us need to hear is simply that God can handle it. That when we have messed up for the third night in a row we can shout to God and be brutally honest with him. Even when it is our own bad choices. When Jesus told us to come to him with everything in prayer this is what he meant. That we are free to worship him and thank him just as much as the times when we want to yell at him out of anger or frustration.
In the blue corner…
Often we suppress our anger at situations or our doubts about life; when in fact a lot of the times that people in the Bible became close to God was when they were upset or angry or confused with Him.
Have you ever fought with God? And I don’t mean the ‘we fell out because he bad talked me behind my back’ type of fought. I mean actually physically fought with God? One person trying to beat up another type of fought? No? I thought not.
But Jacob did. Jacob spent a whole night doing just that with God.
And you can’t fight someone if they are far away or distant. They are close and right in your face and it is actually a very intimate thing.
Could it be that the time we are closest to God is when we are fighting him? When we are pushing and pulling against him.
When we are angry with life and yelling out to God.
And how often do we find ourselves in situations like that?
When we thought we were free of porn addiction but then it hits us right between the eyes again. When we are having trouble with our boyfriend and we know the reason is because you are looking at porn. But you are angry at God for not just stepping in and removing temptation. When we are watching chances to live for something bigger go by because we have wasted time and energy on porn. When we feel we have let God down.
When we just feel stuck.
These situations make us angry and upset and confused. And they often should. Because if they don’t then we are numb to life.
Does Jesus death and resurrection accomplish more than a ride out of here?
I hope so.
I hope it means that God cares about where I am. I believe it means we can completely express our feelings to God. That he doesn’t just want me to show up and sing worship songs to him. Because let’s be honest a lot of the time we don’t feel like singing. Sometimes we want to cry. Sometimes we want to scream. Sometimes we want to yell. Just read the Psalms if you don’t believe me.
And that’s ok.
Because I’d rather wrestle with God than eat cold pizza any day.
Happy Easter to that.