Monday, April 13, 2015

In The Days Following Easter...

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The days following the first Easter Sunday were defining days.

The days following Easter Sunday 2015 are also defining days.

In the days following the first Easter, the religious hierarchy began conspiring with Roman authorities to discredit the story that was spreading, and spreading quickly, that the same Jesus whom they had killed on the cross was now gone from His tomb.

The Roman soldiers accepted the bribe that was offered by the religious leaders, and spread the deception that the followers of Jesus had stolen His body to support their religious beliefs and fake a resurrection.

A campaign of misinformation was launched, driven by personal ambition, pride, ignorance and rebellion, resulting in cultural chaos.

And deception.

But things became complicated. Jesus began making live personal appearances. Many appearances.

In the days following Easter, 2 men were walking to a nearby city discussing their personal disappointment in the way things had turned out for the Nazarene---and for them personally. The prophets were apparently wrong. Or, maybe He just wasn't the Messiah after all, they concluded.

The lies and deception had led them to doubt. And despair.

In the days following Easter 2015, specifically last Tuesday, the President of the United States took the occasion of an Easter Prayer Breakfast to blast Christians for their failure to embrace the "new norm" in human sexuality. A so-called new social "norm" that Jesus, whose resurrection was being celebrated, Himself does not believe or accept.

In the days following Easter 2015, this administration declared last week to be a week of honoring transgender people at the White House, including gender neutral bathrooms and support for the ban on conversion therapy, which often refers to biblical, spiritual deliverance and restoration.

Misinformation. Deception. Cultural Chaos. All under the guise of "Love"---leading some professing Christians to conclude "things are changing, we are living in a post Christian era, the church must adjust and adapt its beliefs."

On Tuesday, following Easter Sunday, President Obama told those attending the Easter Prayer Breakfast, "On Easter, I do reflect on the fact that as a Christian, I am supposed to love. And I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less than loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned."

By everyones estimation and the news cycle of that day, he was referring to the ongoing battle in Indiana over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act where Christians have been smeared as anti-gay bigots for refusing to give up their belief in traditional marriage.

Remember, it was about 2 months ago that our president chose the National Prayer Breakfast to tell Christians not to get on their "high horse" because "remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ," drawing a moral equivalency between ISIS, who singles out Christians for execution, and the Christian Crusades which were fought to defend Christians from the barbarism and the geographic expansion of Islam.

Last week, the week following Easter, the Obama Administration announced its support of a ban on "conversion therapy" in relation to homosexuality, followed by a week of celebrating transgenderism at the White House.

While they will not admit it, this ban is directed specifically at Christian conversion and related counseling---coming to Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin and personal restoration, including deliverance from homosexuality which the Bible says is sin.

Secular counseling has embraced the idea that gays "are born that way" and should not consider changing.

Yesterday, in announcing her run for president, Hillary Clinton said, "Ordinary people need a champion," casting herself as that "champion."

We don't need a "champion."

We need a Savior. We need the Truth. She is neither.

In my lifetime, I have not seen a greater time of moral deception driven by misinformation from people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.

From Oprah to Obama we hear claims of Christianity, with actions and claims that deny Christianity's basic core moral Truth.

The two men walking the 7 miles between Jerusalem and the town of Emmaus (Luke 24) were discussing what had transpired in the city over the weekend. Their discussion, in some ways, mirrors the narrative of our culture today.

We talk about Christianity, claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, celebrate Him, ask God to bless America, yet deny the very biblical moral truth Christ died for.

A third man joined them asking, "Why are you so sad?"

They couldn't believe that he was unaware of all that had taken place, explaining how the religious leaders had led in having the man from Nazareth executed. Their sadness, they said, was that they had hoped that He was the one who "would redeem Israel."

They told the man there were those who claimed Jesus had been resurrected and that the tomb was empty, but there were conflicting stories--they were unsure. While Pilate never claimed to be a believer, he too was conflicted, asking, "What is Truth?"

In a sense these two who did claim to be believers were equally conflicted.

While claiming to believe in the coming Messiah, they were explaining to Him why Jesus of Nazareth apparently wasn't Him.

Later, as you most likely know, when they broke bread with Him "their eyes were no longer restrained" and they recognized Him for who He was and is.

In these days following Easter, we live in a web of cultural deception, confusion and chaos.

While it is incumbent upon true believers to work to help elect leadership in our country who embrace traditional biblical values, it is more important that we recognize the Jesus whom we claim to follow.

Before choosing a "champion," we've got to recognize Jesus as "Savior".

In the days following Easter, Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

That is now described in our culture as "proselytizing."

It was not so many days following His Ascension that the power of the Holy Spirit visited the disciples and they were empowered to do exactly what Christ had instructed them to do.

Without over thinking all of the problems in the culture, they went into the public square and told the Truth.

Following Peter's sermon in the public square, 3,000 people accepted Jesus as Messiah and Savior.

The events of these days are not unlike the days following the first Easter.

The question is how will we respond to our times? With conviction and Truth---or silence and cowardice?

Be Bold.