It’s hard to truly appreciate something when you don’t have a personal relationship with it. We talk about Jesus, God, and His sacrifice all the time. We do bible studies, come to church, go to Christian schools, and talk the talk (even walk the walk). But how much of it do we truly take to heart. When you talk to a friend who has lost a loved one and you’ve experienced the same, the emotions and connection are much stronger. You feel that pain with them.
I’ve always heard the stories of poverty and oppression around the world. You see the pictures, hear the stories, but all in all it’s just another news day. I remember very clearly the first time poverty broke my heart and I decided to do something about it. It was a story about two little boys inRussia. They were 5 and 2. They were home alone during the winter while their parents were out trying to find work. They didn’t have any coats or blankets. They were so cold they tried to start a fire. As they got the fire started it quickly got out of their control and wound up burning their house down and scarring the younger one with burns all over his hands and face. I began to cry, because as I read the story and pictured the two boys, I no longer saw strangers in another country. I saw my two little boys. I saw how happy and blessed they are in their lives with all of the things I do for them, and I couldn’t imagine taking any of that away. I couldn’t imagine watching them shiver from the cold or complain because they haven’t had anything to eat all day. I decided to do something. I’m working to create this website, I now volunteer with WorldVision to help bring awareness and raise money to help children in need. Each child story breaks my heart and brings me to tears. I would never want Alex to say “I go to the dump each day to find garbage we can burn to stay warm. If I don’t find enough fuel for the fire we will get cold. My little brother died last week because he got cold”. Poverty and suffering have a whole new meaning to me because of the relationship I’ve built.
That is how you come to appreciate something like Easter. Easter becomes more than Easter baskets, new clothes, and chocolate bunnies when you have a relationship with Jesus. The stronger you’re connection to him, the more meaning Easter will have. Easter to me today is greatly different from when I was in High School. The more time I’ve spent understanding Jesus, what his life meant, and what he did for me, the more important this weekend has become. I no longer see this as another “high church” day, but the anniversary of the very reason I am who I am. When you have a relationship with something you become more passionate about it. You are defined by it and it affects everything you do. Why wouldn’t your relationship with Christ be anything different?
In the movie “Saving Private Ryan” Tom Hanks character Captain Miller is fatally wounded trying to protect Private Ryan played by Matt Damon. As Private Ryan runs over to the Captain, he looks at the young private and says “earn this”. At the end of the movie, an old Private Ryan is standing at the grave of Captain Miller as his wife, children, and grandchildren come up. He looks at his wife with tears in his eyes and says “Tell me I’m a good man”. The relationship between Captain Miller and Private Ryan changed his life. We see those moments on screen and we’re moved. We feel the passion and the heartbreak, the yearning to live up to the expectations of someone we admire. Now it’s time to apply that to our spiritual life. You can’t say you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and take Easter lightly. As Christians this is the single most important day in the history of the universe. Take a moment to think about your relationship with Jesus today. Are you living the life He would want you to? Are you making a difference, sharing the infinite grace and love that was poured out on you? If not, it’s a good day to start.