Ask most Christians which event is most precious to them during the calendar year and they’ll plump for Easter over Christmas nine times out of ten, an annual reminder of just how far God was prepared to go to prove his love for us. It was a pleasure then for members of Stonehaven Baptist Church to be able to come back together this weekend to celebrate Easter, and we hope you know how welcome you’d be if you’d like to join us any Sunday morning at 11am, we’re based in the old courthouse in the old town.
Our sermon this week was a reminder of the central tenet of what it is to be a Christian, encapsulated by Paul’s writings in his letter to the Corinthian church all those years ago, when he felt they needed a refresher on the core truths of their faith; ie. that Jesus died as an atonement for our sin and conquered death to offer us eternal life with him.
The question posed to those of us who profess this same faith was do we live it? It’s one thing to talk the talk, quite another to walk the walk, and many who declare a love of God may fail to demonstrate this in their daily living. At times we can all hold ourselves up as something that perhaps we’re not, but it’s never long before the truth is unveiled and the emperor is found to be wearing no clothes. It’s the same for Christians, we need reminding that our faith needs to be demonstrated in our behaviour not just our words.
None of us are perfect, or put another way, none of us are truly worthy of God’s love. In our own individual ways, to lesser and greater degrees, we grieve God with our sinfulness, since God can’t abide sin. Paul, a disciple of Jesus, was well aware of his lamentable past but knew he was forgiven by God, and the same forgiveness is offered to you too, regardless of the shame you might feel about your past or the depths of guilt your heart harbours for bad behaviours perpetuated during your life. Peace and forgiveness is available to you. How? Well not because of anything you can do to earn God’s favour, because all of humankind falls short of the mark in terms of reaching the perfection of God. No, we piggyback instead upon the saving grace of Jesus Christ when we acknowledge him and welcome him into our hearts. All we need do is say yes to him, believe in him and we are saved. It’s that simple.
When Jesus died on the cross, crucified in grotesque agony to suffer a criminal’s death, he did so as a sacrifice for your sins, his love for you so strong that he willingly gave up his life to unite you with his father, our father, God in heaven. Jesus’s death was the ultimate atonement for sinfulness, ours not his since he lived a spotless, perfect life. But this was only half of the story, for if it ended there we’d have no hope of a better life to come. Instead, he was resurrected from the dead, returning three days after his crucifixion to prove he’d conquered death and let us know that eternal life with him is our prize if we believe in him. Hopefully, this year, the true message of Easter matches the message of Christmas for you, and a new life can begin with God at the centre of your heart.