So what’s so special about Easter? Aside from finally breaking free from your Lenten sacrifice and going from “food fast” to “fast food”? What goes beyond Easter egg hunts and malls finally opening after days of shut doors?
EASTER just happens to be the very foundation of our FAITH. It is because of Easter that we believe that Jesus is GOD. It is because of Easter we acknowledge that the Jesus we serve is in fact, a LIVING GOD.
I recall having a conversation with a well intentioned friend years ago who saw Jesus as just “a really, really good guy in history”. The guy everyone loved, the one person who was always fair and just, the fella who brought everyone together. No one thinks Jesus was a bad person, even those who don’t believe that He is God think that HE was at least a nice, peace-loving fella. Think Ned Stark in Game of Thrones. I bet you a thousand pesos that you had your jaw dropped for a good 2 minutes when they chopped off his head. I threw a frickin’ pillow when he died (I wanted to throw my phone pero mahal yun kaya unan nalang). “Why did they kill Sean Bean!??!? Ayoko na!!! I hate this!!!!”. I wanted to slit the throat of that Geoffrey brat who for some odd reason reminds me of the lead singer of The Script.
But that’s just it, Jesus is not just any fictional character. He suffered a very publicly humiliating and degrading crucifixion and death. It was witnessed by thousands and well documented in history. What sets him apart from all the martyrs and saints that came before and after him is the fact that HE ROSE AGAIN. His resurrection proves that HE is so much more than this “really GOOD guy”. Let’s see you try dying and bringing back yourself to life.Hmm, not that easy huh? I can’t even do parallel parking decently so I guess “resurrecting” won’t make it’s way to my list of “hobbies and strengths” anytime soon.
To this day, I struggle with the institution of Religion. Religion is an invention of society. An imperfect system created by imperfect beings. With egos, ulterior motives, insecurities, pride, and vanity..there is no perfect religion in this world. But amidst the weakness of people, the natural human propensity to err, shines the light of Christ’s perfect love and grace. This is the one thing that keeps me steady.
You know how some guys (and yes girls too) always struggle with commitment? How some people seem so allergic to labels. You know those types who’ve got it all figured out: “Let’s keep it simple….we don’t have to call it a “relationship”…what’s important is that we like hanging out..” OR the classic “I’m worried that it would ruin our friendship…” OR “I like what we have right now..why should we complicate things by calling each other boyfriend-girlfriend?” Don’t you find it ironic that the people who claim to be “keeping it simple” without commitments are actually the ones who have “It’s complicated” on their FB statuses. Just saying. I guess I’m OLD SCHOOL when it comes to relationships, sabi nga ni John Mayer “Friends, Lovers, or Nothing. There can only be one..there will never be an in between so give it up!” My dad puts it so painfully true, “If he doesn’t introduce you to his mom as his girlfriend, then you are NOT his girlfriend”. HAHAHA
Well, with me..when it comes to RELIGION..I’m one of the weaker ones, the fickle-minded ones, the ones lacking in commitment holding up the “It’s Complicated” sign. I’ve lost to hundreds of debates with friends and family members about this personal struggle of mine.
I grew up in a warm, loving environment..I was never a Bible fanatic but I was exposed to Bible verses in school, I was a good and dutiful daughter and went to church on Sundays, I had lots of friends, I got good grades, none of the sex-drugs-and alcohol kind of rock n’roll lifestyle. I was your typical teenager with a healthy amount of angst about baby fat. I had my issues and insecurities and had my share of iyak-sa-banyo-while singing Sarah Mclachlan’s Angel- moments too just like any person.
But there was always something that turned me off about religion. When people would use the word “God” in every sentence..almost as casually as saying “Ummmm” in between breaths, I would find myself feeling uneasy around them. When people would quote Bible verses in between statements, claiming their decisions as “God’s will”, or judging other people’s moves and “praying” for them immediately after.. I would get goosebumps. I would feel claustrophobic watching others judge others and feeling guilty too for judging them in the process of their judging. I found the church as a breeding ground for pretenses, almost like a venue to out-glorify one another. For people to live the way they wanted to live from Monday to Saturday and miraculously make up for their sins on Sundays. Ultimately, I was heartbroken and disillusioned. I fell out of love for religion which sadly affected my personal relationship with God.
Then I realized something so fundamentally obvious, GOD is not RELIGION and vice versa. Religion is an attempt to put Jesus in a box, to understand him in terms our puny minds can comprehend. God cannot be confined in doctrine and dogma.
And it is EASTER that reminds me of this every year. That Christ died on the cross and rose again NOT for Christianity to be established, not for all these organizations to grow in numbers, not for fame, glory and riches…HE died for ME. For me to understand his love, his pure and unfailing love. The love that I definitely do not deserve, a love I cannot earn no matter how hard I try, a love that cannot be bought…only a love that was willingly given as a gift.
That’s why writing about God is something I really stress about, I always feel inadequate and unworthy to even claim his love for me! Others find it so easy to just blurt out passages from the Bible, but for me..it’s not that easy to just act all goody-goody and become the ideal “Christian”. How does one even merit the tag? Even writing this very post is difficult for me because I don’t want to appear religious or holy-schmoly-guacamole in any way. I will not stand here and pretend to know better than any of you..because I’m in the dark as well. But that’s the beauty about God’s love, it’s welcoming and given whole heartedly..with no judgments and no billing request for a substantial payback. That’s what you call GRACE. And we do good as a result of understanding this grace.
In Station 9 of Walkway: Crucifixion there’s a closing statement that gets me each time “THE MOTIVATION WAS LOVE. THE MOTIVATION WAS YOU.” That’s exactly what I keep reminding myself when I lose focus of the things that really matter.
Here’s my personal take on this and you’re welcome to disagree. God did NOT have to die on the cross to prove that he is God. Just read the Old Testament and you’ll see that he held a pretty good track record in proving his deity. The parting of the Red Sea, the Burning Bush, The Great Flood, all these things recorded in the Bible show us how powerful and awesome God is. He didn’t have to display another magic trick to prove himself worthy of our worship and reverence. The resurrection is not just another David Copperfield stunt. If the stories in the Old Testament showed his POWER. Christ’s death and resurrection showed his LOVE. That’s the whole point. He didn’t have to but he did it because he wanted to show you how much HE LOVED YOU. It is through his pain and sacrifice that we understand how this GREAT SUPREME BEING feels for each and every one of us.
Although my views on religion will always remain “It’s Complicated”, I’m happy to say that when it comes to Jesus I can confidently put “In a Relationship” for all the world to see. But it’s not always easy, just like any relationship..it takes a lot of work, a sense of commitment, honesty, and FAITH to keep things together.
I’m not completely there yet. It’s still a sloooooow process for me. But someone close to me told me that when you finally get it, you’ll see how wonderfully easy it is to fall in love with Christ. So I’m waiting for that moment to come!!!:)