Have you noticed how spring’s arrival affects people?
Sunshine so often provokes a tangible optimism, enlivening our demeanor, even brightening our countenance.
It seems to me the gospel ought to have this effect among Christians, especially in these days of remembering the cross and empty tomb of Jesus. True Christianity brings to the soul what springtime brings to the natural world.
Let me explain.
To believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you is to experience your life’s greatest burden being lifted. In that death, Jesus completely absorbed the wrath of God that you and I deserve because of our sinfulness.
Christ has reconciled us to God. No longer do we need to carry the burden of guilt and shame that comes from failing to measure up to God’s righteous standard. No longer do we need to fear God’s judgment when this life is over, because Jesus took that judgment for us at Calvary’s cross.
Jesus put it this way: “It is finished!”
Do you see how the light of Jesus shines through the winter of our soul’s deepest fears?
When we turn from self-reliance and trust in Jesus, we find that there is a clear and wonderful purpose to this life, even in its struggles. Christ followers, those brought into friendship with God through faith in Jesus, are God’s image-bearers and messengers in this world.
Just as sons and daughters bear the nature of their parents, so Christians bear the nature of their heavenly father: love, hope, forgiveness, patience, goodness, righteousness. The spiritual effect of this in our world is not unlike the natural effect of sunshine dispelling winter’s darkness.
Children don’t work really hard to be like their parents. In fact, they can’t help being like their parents! And so it is with the true children of God; bearing his character is the natural result of that relationship.
No, we’re not perfect. But if we bear none of God’s attributes, can we honestly say we’ve been brought into a relationship with him? I think not.
I’m no meteorologist, but I imagine it is tiresome to continually forecast winter’s dark, stormy, harsh weather. Nobody wants to hear that stuff. It must feel so much better to be the herald of spring’s arrival in all of its welcome details.
Christians have such a privilege. Our life purpose is letting others know their soul’s winter can end if they’ll simply trust in Jesus.
In less than a week, Christians all over the world will observe Good Friday, a remembrance of Christ’s cross. Good Friday can be called good only because it is followed by Easter Sunday.
To believe that Jesus rose from his tomb and is alive today is to enjoy a hope that cannot be diminished or lost: the hope of heaven. Just as Jesus lives and has ascended to heaven, so will his followers live eternally in heaven.
Do you believe this?
You know, the first Christians were so transformed by faith in Christ that they assumed people would notice the love, joy, peace and holiness that he brought into their lives.
“… Worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ” (1 Peter 3:15-16, New Living Translation).
To follow Christ is to have a palpable hope that people will ask about.
Haven’t you noticed how spring’s arrival affects people?