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Have You Done Enough for God This Easter?

The real message of Easter is not about being "good enough."

by
Paula Bolyard

Bio

April 20, 2014 - 5:30 am
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On Saturday I made what my Polish family calls “yellow.” It’s a sweet egg custard concoction that I remember my grandmother making every Easter when we visited. She always prepared the “yellow” the day before Easter and it would hang overnight, suspended between two kitchen chairs, wrapped in a cheesecloth, dripping excess moisture so the cheesy blob of yellow would be firm for Easter dinner the next day (the consistency of the finished product is somewhere between that of pudding and cream cheese).

No one in my family even likes “yellow.” I’m not sure why I made it — probably out of a sense of tradition and also for the feeling of accomplishment I get from creating something that required a bit of effort. Perhaps for the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing my part to contribute to my family’s Easter dinner.

When I was making the “yellow” that no one will likely even eat on Sunday, I was thinking about how we try to do that with God. Sometimes, we do things out of a sense of tradition. We “inherit” a faith from our parents and continue to perform the traditions out of either a sense of duty or a desire to honor our family’s heritage.

Other times, we approach God with something in our hands — confident that we have accomplished something that will please Him. If we work hard enough and put enough effort into our faith (or our good works), God will appreciate our effort and approve of us.

As I was stirring the custard on the stove (for a full 40 minutes!) I thought about my own propensity for doing both of those things — both my reliance on faith traditions and my smug assurance that my “doing” is what makes me right before God.

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All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
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Risen indeed!
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the kingdom." Now what is this all about. "Take up your cross and follow me." Maybe we should make a special effort to do this as Good Friday approaches.

The Christian life is about prayer, fasting and mercy to others. We do this not to buy our salvation but to transform ourselves with God's help into what we are not, sons worthy to inherit the kingdom. This transformation is an essential element of the salvation that Jesus won for us at Calvary. It is a gift that we should embrace.

Now as Easter approaches, the tradition is that we should step up our effort to a level that we cannot sustain year round. We do this in pale imitation of the perfect obedience of the Son of Man who fulfilled all righteousness to break the chains of sin and death which bound mankind since Adam. Truly, the greatest gift God can give us is to make us Christ-like through our feeble efforts to serve him.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Easter is a pagan Holiday. End of stinking story.

A true Christian observes Passover, especially the last day of Passover, and Christ's resurrection. Not the Queen of Heaven and her pet bunny which is part of mystery Babylon.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy MBA
The secular Easter, like the secular Christmas, has pagan roots and loses touch with its Christian heritage.
Passover is a spring festival ordained in the Old Testament to commemorate the Exodus. The gospel Passion story is set at Passover and makes Easter very scriptural if it's remembered that way.
I would say there was a difference between being worried about Maryolatry, a custom if not a teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, and being scornful of your fellow Christians. I'd say your comment is on the scornful side.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Friend, "Maryolatry" isn't a Catholic teaching or custom. I won't speak for the confused, but the Church has never taught worship of anyone other than God.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good to hear from you Sir. You are almost 100% correct on my tone.

It is the Universal Church which brought paganism into the true church that I take issue with. Not the innocent who do not know better.

Peace.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
This obsession with "works vs. faith" which has gone on for five centuries gets to be rather tiresome, especially when the rest of us stopped having the argument a few years after it was started (started mostly by some confused guy who couldn't even accurately describe what his supposed opponents authoriatively taught). Time to move on.

It is, after all, a pretty falacious dichotomy. Like most things concerning Christ, it is not either-or, but both-and. In addition to being a false dichotomy, it also echoes the claims of Islam.

A very large part of the ministry of Jesus involved urging people to do this and do that. He was and is very concerned with not only mouthing the words of faith, not only saying "I believe," but with having a living faith, where the light of Christ shines through us as manifested in what we do. He was very concerned with our using the grace that he offers us, not only to selfishly save our own sorry rear-ends, but to do things, especially those things which are oriented toward a communion of persons, the unitive and fruitful acts of loving God and loving others.

And since love does play the central role in all of this, since God is Love, that necessarily means that God will respect our free will -- love that is forcibly imposed on someone is not love, but a species of rape -- such that before we can fully receive and benefit from His grace, we must accept it and cooperate with it, i.e. we must do something. God may have made us without asking us, but He does not save us without our willing it. And our wills are demonstrated by how we live our lives.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bender3000: If God is omnipotent and omniscient, how can man have free will?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Works without salvation is putting the cart before the horse. Salvation brings the works. They're a sign of a changed heart, but not a requirement or obligation, just something you feel the need to do.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's easy to get the idea that we must do good works to enter heaven, especially when there's a Gospel story about goats and sheep and what we do for the least of our brothers.
It's also easy to get the idea that we can't do enough good to enter heaven because the weight of our sins is so great. I don't think there's an exact quote to that effect, but Paul's above is close enough.
Which is how I landed where I kind of landed. We can't win God's grace because we already have it. We are God's from birth. Like all children, we will sometimes disappoint God and even anger Him -- and God loves us as parents love our children.
And that is enough reason to be humble and yet confident of God's love, to do in our lives acts of love and dedication, without counting up our sins against our offerings of money or of deeds.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"We can't win God's grace because we already have it. We are God's from birth."

"To as many as received him, to them he gave the right to be called the sons of God."

"Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

"Unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins."

"No man comes to the Father but by me."

"I tell you, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

"“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

"And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”

And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. ... And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire."

21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Mark v
I am utterly opposed to the idea of damnation. I believe it is either a lie or an error in Scripture. I do not foresee anything that is likely to change my belief on damnation. I got there through humility, not arrogance.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
What makes you so sure? Once you start saying parts of scripture are unreliable, the whole thing is suspect and your faith is built on what makes you comfortable rather than the truth revealed in the Bible.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
How reliable is the part about murdering sassy children and those who work on the sabbath?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Ms Bolyard
You're correct, although I hope I'm doing better than just what makes me feel comfortable.
I can accept what I find wise in the Bible and reject what I can't accept, or I can reject the whole thing. I can't -- absolutely cannot -- accept it all as it's been brought to us.
Why do I reject damnation? Because I'm a father and because I'm a son. I could not damn my son, though I might weep over his behavior and try to correct it. Nor would my father have damned me -- and he did do some weeping and correcting.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
And now I get confirmation that the right is just as loony as the left.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are aware aren't you that your "confirmation" by definition must also title Jesus Christ as the head loony? Because what Ms. Bolyard just provided is accurate according to 'The Word.'

Are you comfortable with that? If so, ironically the head loony granted you that right too.

As for me and my house, we will choose to recognize Jesus as the Christ, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He offers me something you incapable of providing me, Sniper.

Hope...
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Tex
LRS is an atheist by his own description. Referring him to the Gospel is not going to influence him any more than a reference to the Koran will influence you. I say that not to insult either of you but to set the terms of discussion.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy, LRS
I am sorry that your brand of atheism seems to lead you to scorn those who believe, or even those who doubt. I can understand and respect those who can't believe in God. Will you offer me the same?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Naturally you are well aware that Easter has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus Christ, so it's also natural that you might have these questions. Sort of like The same issues at Christmas, right? or not?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Thom1
Spring festivals began long before Christianity and so did winter festivals. The Biblical account of the Passion does place it at Passover and so link it to the season when Spring festivals were common.
Christmas has no clear season described in the Bible. The available clues point more to Spring than to Winter. The early Church tagged onto Rome's Saturnalia, or it at least looks like that.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks....I think what you're saying is the pagan customs drew Christianity in, rather than vice versa, which was my original point...doesn't matter how good you are or how well meaning your intent or traditions, Easter is not a thing for Believers...but as I try to point out...God is not my co-pilot, (good book, lousy title) He's in charge, guess it all depends on how seriously you take Him, right?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Thom1.
No, I meant that Christianity drew in and incorporated the older customs, as Judaism had done before Christianity.
I don't know why Believers would be reluctant to acknowledge Easter or even its ancient, pagan connections. The Passover was ordained in the Old Testament and Purim (the Feast of Booths) is simply a harvest celebration dedicated to God.
As far as I can tell, God is the unit commander. I get direction from my beliefs in God but I have to work them out in my own life as best I understand God's will and whatever situation I find myself in. I've never had a clear voice of God telling me to turn right to avoid an accident. Doesn't mean I've never had divine intervention -- there are times I think may have been such -- but I'm still flying the plane.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"He is risen!"
He has risen indeed.
"As I write this, the “yellow” is hanging in my kitchen, wrapped in a cheesecloth (possibly breeding salmonella) and dripping a murky liquid. I’ll take it to my mom’s house where we’ll all have a good laugh about how I went to so much trouble for a food no one will eat."
You made cream cheese, serve it with bagels and all will be well.
If you were as demented as I am, you would use the drippings for your next loaf of bread.
Happy Easter.

21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...my reliance on faith traditions and my smug assurance that my “doing” is what makes me right before God."

A striving to be accepted into God's grace through "doing" strikes me as a purely human teaching.

As His creation, his consciousness formed, aren't you already "right" before God, even though you may goof up as a human being ?

Similarly, the truth of God's existence is hardly a function of whether or not individual human minds accept or don't accept the premise.

As a comedienne in a radio interview noted yesterday, God isn't that insecure :)
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy tanstaafl02
It is true that the theists, or the atheists, are right regardless of anyone's belief. And if the theists as a body are right, it's true that only one denomination can be entirely right -- my guess is that none are.
I'm inclined to agree that it's a human teaching to get God's grace through "doing" -- and not doing. I find myself suspicious because a lot of the doing or not doing seems to me to have little to do with God's will.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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