Easter is for sinners
Jesus is for sinners. He lived for them. He died for them. He rose for them.
Jesus is for us. He lived for us. He died for us. He rose for us. Jesus is for us because we are all sinners.
Sadly, too many of us in the Church get caught up in sin, but in the wrong way. We are self-centred, self-focused creatures; obsessed, more often than not, with our own comfort and our own wants and needs. We fall short of God’s call through the prophets to love God through justice, mercy and humility. We sin through the way we act and the way we fail to act.
It is just as wrong to get caught up in focusing on sin in ways that lead us to become judgemental and condemning of others. When we focus on the sin of others we usually end up as hypocritical self-righteous, religious bigots.
Jesus is for sinners. He came to save us. This is not about a theological transaction. This is not about a doctrinal formula. This is about Jesus being with us.
God with us
Easter starts with the conception of Jesus in the womb and the annunciation of Immanuel — God with us.
Easter continues through the life, teaching, example, and working of Jesus, which sets him against empty religion based of transactional righteousness (where a symbolic, ritual action supposedly changes God’s attitude towards us and puts off judgement against us).
Easter sets Jesus against systemic power of governments, traditions, culture, and religion which places people in privilege over others and leads to wrong perceptions of self-righteousness and worth.
Easter continues to the cross where Jesus is a religious and political victim of those who seek to hold privilege and promote power. Easter continues to the tomb where God allows us to believe that we can rid ourselves of the annoyance of transcendent conscience and delude ourselves that we have ultimate power over our lives and the lives of others.
Easter continues through resurrection to re-enter our world in a shocking way (just as in the birth of Christ). It remind us of Immanuel – God with and for us — and that there is nothing, not even our worst, that can kill God’s active love for us.
Jesus is for us
Jesus is for sinners, and because we are all sinners, Jesus is for us. Jesus is Immanuel – God with and for us. God is love and Jesus is the love of God incarnate: love, which is the sacrificial giving of God’s best to work for our best and what is best for the world. We are sinners, but before that, we are God’s.
Righteousness does not come from belief – although belief is involved. Righteousness does not come from ritual – although ritual can be helpful. Righteousness does not even come from faith – but faith is a large part of accessing it. Righteousness comes from God. It comes from Jesus. It is not transactional, but relational. We don’t earn it, nor are we rewarded with it. We can’t purchase or trade for it.
Righteousness is being in relationship with God. It is about knowing, not only about Jesus, but knowing Jesus. It is about following not only religious rules, traditions and culture, but following Jesus in faithful loving service to God and others. It involves the sacrificial giving of the best of ourselves to work for the best in others and the world; not to earn righteousness, but because it is simply the right response to the love and grace of God. God is for us and, when we seek to live rightly with God, our sin melts away as we are healed, transformed and renewed. Happy and holy Easter.
Jon Humphries is the Chaplain at Ravenswood School for Girls