SHARONVILLE, OH – The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central tenant of the Christian faith. Unlike other events in the life of Christ we know when it happened, down to the hours of the day. We know why it happened, where it happened, and most of the incidental events which accompanied it.
The Apostles made it clear that it was the essential element of the gospel message. The resurrection of Christ featured prominently in their preaching as did the suffering of the cross. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).
The New Testament stresses the resurrection in its teaching as Paul argues, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). We cannot diminish the primacy of the resurrection or the suffering of the cross to minor points of theological debate. Without them we do not have a living faith, merely a dead religion.
Yet, when most people hear the word, “Easter” they don’t think of these things. I used to work in a mall. Most of the time I took my lunch break at the food court. Every spring, on the outskirts of the food court, the mall entertained a notable visitor. Sometime around March/April the Easter Bunny held court. Parents and children would come there to have their pictures taken and memories made. While I always found the family dynamic a tender scene I never thought to myself, “Wow, what a wonderful representation of the resurrection of Christ!” There is nothing about eggs and bunnies that teach Christ’s passion.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m all for eating chocolate bunnies. My concern is that we’ve allowed the images of an increasingly secular culture take over the clear teaching of the Scriptures in our churches and our families. We’ve become so numbed by the culture that it seems we’ve forgotten that these events are central to the gospel message.
So what is the solution to this erosion of a biblical spirituality? The pastor. He stands firmly between the culture and the congregation. It is his job to teach and preach in such a way that the truth of Christ’s passion and resurrection is heard, learned, and understood. Paul tells the Ephesian elders that it is their job to, “feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
The pastor is only one part of the answer. The Christian must also be diligent in their devotional life, following the lead of the pastor and holding to the Church Covenant. The Covenant helps us here, “We also encourage family and personal devotions; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances. To walk cautiously in the world;” If we were to add this kind of focused life to biblical teaching we would never worry about the gale winds of culture.
Preaching and teaching the cross and the empty tomb won’t win any popularity contests, especially in a time when free speech has been replaced by approved speech. But we are not called to be popular. We are ordained to tell the truth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Smith is an author, speaker and podcaster. He is pastor of Creek Road Baptist Church in Sharonville, OH.