Editor’s note: “Living on Purpose” is a Kentucky-based religious column provided free to the Bartlett Express. We also welcome local columns with similarly universal messages; send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the time of year when Christians remember the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a season when His followers are focused on how He suffered and died on the cross and after three days He arose from the grave. To be honest, holy week is not really a jolly time of celebration but rather calls for serious meditation and being grateful for the gift of salvation. It is bittersweet because it’s never pleasant to imagine a person being brutally tortured (especially when they are innocent), but the fact that Jesus miraculously came back to life is a demonstration of His infinite power and authority and why we are so filled with humility and encouragement. Jesus Christ did not just talk about love, He demonstrated His passion by suffering and surrendering His life so that we could live.
I admit I am an emotional person. I remember going to see the Passion movie a few years ago and I was disturbed to say the least. It is not uncommon for me to cry when I witness something that moves my soul and this was no exception. Recently, I was watching a story about the Make-a-Wish Foundation and how they provide a way for very sick children to have a happy experience that is mostly likely their last request, and it seems I cried through the entire program. As the scenes of what Christ endured was presented before me, I kept thinking how could someone watch something like this and not be deeply stirred? I am not ashamed to wear my feelings on my sleeve, as I have no desire to hide behind a mask to pretend I am strong and not emotionally influenced. Actually, I believe if we are not careful, we can become hardened by the harshness of life and lose our spiritual sensitivity.
I think about His life and the reason why He came to Earth, which is explained so clearly in the 16th verse of the third chapter of John. I think about how He was betrayed by those He trusted and was denied by His closest friends. The religious community rejected His message and the legal system along with the demands from the general population, overwhelmingly agreed to publicly execute Him without a reason other than they hated Him. Sadly, things have not really changed that much.
We notice that He was constantly approached by those in desperate need and it was His character to be concerned and compassionate. The world has always been filled with human suffering and He is always ready to respond in love and mercy. Being emotional and even knowledgeable about the Bible is fine, but that does not necessarily mean that someone is following Christ. It is what they do with what they have learned that transforms emotions into spiritual obedience. When we see someone who needs help or even an encouraging word, what good does it do to just look at them with pity? Christ was always ministering to those who would reach out to Him by faith, and two thousand years later He is still pouring out His grace and forgiveness to anyone who will call upon His name.
As His followers, we have been called to focus our attention on becoming more like Him in spite of a troubled world that justifies walking over the wounded and being self-centered. His command to take up our cross includes letting go of our natural way of selfish thinking and to willingly embrace the empathy of Heaven. It seems the more I learn about His life, the more I can sense what was being felt by those who knew Him. As we meditate on His message, we are given a deeper understanding of who He is and what He wants to do through us. The reverential fear and awareness of who Jesus is and why He came is our hope for Heaven, and it is now our responsibility to keep our spiritual eyes focused on our mission. Beyond the new clothes and the Easter festivities, may we spend some time focusing on the one who loves us and came to save us from our ourselves.
Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author and community outreach chaplain. Request a free copy of his new CD at billyhollandministries.com.