Tuesday, April 3, 2012

what easter's about: a hunger games analogy.

i asked my sunday school kids last week what they thought about easter, what it represented to them. they said, it means family, food, and candy. fair enough: they're seven!

but really, what does easter mean? why do we celebrate this day? what does it represent?
what weight does it carry?

Jesus met the people where they were at, and presented the gospel in parables to make it "relevant" and understandable.

what's more relevant than the hunger games? further, what does easter represent in terms of the hunger games?

consider panem: once it was a glorious nation and people, but the people wanted "more" so they rebelled against the capitol, ultimately dividing the nation. in order to remind the people of their rebellion, and to prevent it from ever happening again, the capitol celebrates the hunger games, pegging young representatives of the divided districts against each other in a brutal, sacrificial reminder of "what the capitol has done" for them: their sort of backwards idea of redemption.

the rationalization and explanation for the games goes like this:
War, terrible war. Widows, orphans, a motherless child. This was the uprising that rocked our land. 13 districts rebelled against the country that fed, loved, and protected them. Brother turned on brother until nothing remained. And then came the peace. Hard fought, sorely won. People rose up from the ashes, and a new era was born. But freedom has a cost. When the traitor was defeated, we swore as a nation we would never know this treason again. And so it was decreed that each year, the various districts of Panem would offer up in tribute one young man and woman, to fight to the death in a pageant of honor, courage, and sacrifice. The lone victor, bathed in riches, would serve as a reminder of our generosity and forgiveness.
we were created by a loving God who wanted to bless us and to have relationship with us [genesis 1:26-31]. but we chose sin - that which selfishly satisfies or serves the individual - from the beginning, thinking there was "more" for us than everything God had already provided. we waged this war, terrible war, disrupting the perfect plan, and, from our birth, we began an uprising that rocked the lives and relationship we were intended to have and be part of. we rebelled against the [God] that fed, loved, and protected [us] [matthew 7:11, jeremiah 31:3, psalm 91:4]. but [our so-called] freedom has a cost - because God is so perfect and we are not, He sent us away from Him [genesis 3:22-24]. however, in His love, and in His deep desire for us to love Him in return, He sent His son, Jesus, to fight to the death in a [display] of honor, courage, and sacrifice - taking the punishment we deserved because of our sin and rebellion, and placing it on His own, sinless, undeserving shoulders by dying the most horrible death, death on a cross. but it doesn't end there: if we then turn to God, and recognize Jesus as the lone victor over the trials [and joys] of our lives, and confess that we believe He died for us, He will restore the relationship broken by sin, and redeem us of our past rebellion, and bring us into a "new life" through his generosity and forgiveness.

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while the tradition of easter may be about family, food, and candy, it is a celebration of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. not one He did out of unwilling necessity, but one He took upon Himself in order that we - imperfect, self-satisfying people - could be redeemed to the Father and Creator.

this is not a celebration of some dead God, some quiet, old God. this is the celebration of a God still fully alive, and fully working today [hebrews 4:12]; a God who desperately wants to lavish your life with blessings, if only you'd allow Him to have "every part" of you - if only you'd be willing to allow Him to have control and sovereignty over it.

that is not always easy - no one would tell you that it is. it requires faith, and repeatedly surrendering your desires, in place of His significantly better desires. God sees the big picture; you don't [isaiah 55:8]. He knows what's happening in every area of your life; you only have a glimpse.

God didn't just send His own Son, Jesus, to the cross, and end it there. He asks that we would hand over our burdens repeatedly to Him [matthew 11:28-30]. that we would not try to carry things or do life on our own, but that we would let God take the reigns!

will you let God be in control of your life? will you give back to Him what was originally His and created for His glory - YOU?  will you celebrate Jesus this weekend, in a full realization of what He did by going to the cross?

i pray that we would all have a deeper, greater realization and picture of what Christ did for us. it's not just some mass-produced image of a man hanging on a tree, but that man is hanging up there for me! and for you! i hope your weekend is so so blessed - with family, food, and candy, and a greater understanding of God's love!

happy easter friends. 

post inspired by paper angel's "the hunger games... and ot judgement". if you have any more questions, or want to chat about what is written here, comment below, or shoot me an email at alliespencerphoto[at]gmail[dot]com!

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