By Mark A. Taylor
I bumped into our backyard neighbor at the grocery store, and the conversation went from the price of groceries to the weather to “How are your kids?”
And then she told me, “We’ve been going to church.”
She had visited our church once, several years ago, but she had never come back. And I always felt she was embarrassed by that. But now she was smiling.
“The girls love it, and the first Sunday my 13-year-old daughter asked if she could go back that night to youth group.”
Then her expression became more earnest. “It’s really important to have something outside yourself,” she said. “Life is better when you know you have help. I’m calmer now.”
And as I think about this the week before Easter, I’m praying they become something more than churchgoers. I understand that today’s church often wins people to community before Christ, and I’m glad my neighbors have found a circle of Christians where they feel they belong. But I’m praying this week that something more than a good group and a vague sense of supernatural help will take root in them.
At Easter we remember and proclaim that our faith is more than just another option among the world’s religions. We are not consumers or concertgoers; we are more than seekers in search of self-help. We go to church not only because of the people or the encouragement we find there, but because the historical fact of Christ’s resurrection is the greatest of all game changers.
We worship because the God who made us entered our world to stake his claim on us. His death was more than a martyr’s, and his grave was far from the end. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
On Easter Sunday and every Sunday we celebrate our living hope. We take our eyes off ourselves and gaze at the eternal God. We revel in the reality that we’re not made for this world, but the next. Nothing says it better than Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the apostle’s words: “Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!”
My neighbors have entered an invigorating, new future. They’re experiencing the first, fresh breezes of a “brand-new life.” And I’m thanking God they’ve begun to grasp the promise that Easter offers everyone.