I’ve heard it called the Easter story. To do so, I think, relegates it to a place and a time and a past, sets it apart as though it lived outside of us, separate from us.
But isn’t separation, a rather willed independence, our first sin? And isn’t our will, when it relegates, an act of pride, a way we place our self above? Pride is the consequence of separation.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good—above all, that we are better than someone else—I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.” Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It simply does not think of self before others.
As Christian, I appear to be caught in a trap. If I say to myself I am good because I believe, I am guilty of pride and in danger of all the sins it fathers. If I then say I am unworthy and do not deserve grace, I at once affirm my unbelief in God’s power to love me. My good is an obvious pride, my unworthiness is the more subtle pride convicting me. I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Herein lies the meaning of the Resurrection. Salvation offered through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross lifts me from the trap. My pride and doubt are the sins from which Christ came to save me and in accepting His grace and love, I admit it is God that saves me and not me defined by my thoughts of good and unworthiness. The Cross forces me to look to God and not to myself be it a good self or an unworthy one.
If Easter is a story, it is a most fantastical one full of myth and pathos. But it can never be a story, those connected words conveying something that happened. Easter is a truth difficult to understand, a meaning placing us between belief and disbelief. Truth may be dismissed by our pride and separation but it can never be confined to place and time and history. Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection intends to draw us closer to God through its unfathomable grace.
We are all, as Tim Tennant says, called to the undivided life—the life before sin separated us from God and before pride paid us with death—the life awaiting us after death. I am neither good nor unworthy. I am restored in the life and relationship God intended. This is the meaning, not the words.
And once restored, Easter, and all its meaning, lives inside me, lives into the lives of others.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).