Well, it is springtime! Just as you can always expect flowers to begin blooming, the days getting a little longer and everyone’s mood getting a little brighter, there’s something else you can always expect this time of the year. Church invitations.
Let’s be honest, Easter Sunday is a day when many people who are not usually regular church goers come to church. Also, people who’ve become dissatisfied with their church sometimes do a little “church shopping” on this particular Sunday. As a result, us church folks really try to put on our game face and put our best foot forward. So, many churches are scrambling to figure out some “hook” to catch your attention. You’ll see a lot of different tactics to try and attract folks. Egg hunts, bouncy houses, special musical guests, skits, comedy, movie clips, smoke machines, prize drawings and other enticements are just a few of the ways churches are trying to get you to give them a look. I appreciate their creativity and drive.
But, here’s the deal, I sincerely hope that you’ll visit a church this Sunday. But, don’t go for the bouncy house. Don’t go for the egg hunt. Don’t go for the production value. Rather go because of the message of the crucified Christ rising from the dead (Luke 24:1-13). Listen closely for that message. Listen to see if you’re confronted with the fact that you’re a sinner (Romans 3:23). Listen for the message that Christ, although He was without sin, was crucified 2000 years ago on your behalf (Isaiah 53:5-6). Listen to hear the message that the punishment that yours and my sins deserve was fully paid by Jesus on the cross (Galatians 3:13). Pay attention to make sure that you’re told that because Jesus took the penalty that you deserve, you can have his perfect righteousness credited to you by faith alone (2 Corinthians 5:21). And, because He rose from the dead, it means that all who trust in Him will be resurrected as well (1 Corinthians 15:14-19)
If that message is missing, no amount of slick production value or gimmicks or prizes can make up for it.
What I hope you find is simply: word, sacrament, fellowship and song. The Word of Christ and his victory over the grave preached (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper with bread and wine- Jesus broken body and shed blood served (Matthew 26:26-29). Songs of Christ and what He has done sung (Colossians 3:16). And fellowship with other people who are just as sinful and needing of forgiveness as you (Hebrews 10:24-25). These simple “ordinary means” are the only means that God has given the church to encourage us and grow us.
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:14-20