Easter is just a few weeks away and amongst the new dresses and chocolates there seems to remains hidden even among professing Christians the wisdom and truth of the Gospel itself. If all we know is “Jesus died for my sins” and then all we have a little prayer that we parroted in response, then I’m afraid we are in grave danger of missing Jesus Himself. The teaching in Luke ought to be sobering and worthy of our time and reflection.
Luke 13:23-27 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are.
Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
The “strait gate” seems so, well, straight. Narrow. Intolerant, if you will. But as you can see, it matters not when you, after death, meet Him whether you knew about Him, professed Him, did works in His name, went to church twice or even 114 times a year, were “a good person” or even at that point beg for His forgiveness. He will send you out from His presence, and because God’s Word is true, there is no shame in warning and trying to save people from the judgment that He promises will come.
Pass the chocolate eggs then, and let’s talk then about how to teach our kids, our precious children, the true meaning of Easter.
You cannot teach your children what Easter is truly about if you, yourself, have never heard the true Gospel preached. I’m afraid many, many churches and pastors spend lots of time teaching about godly living, about loving your neighbor, about how to become more prosperous…but never share about repentance and faith. The word “sin” has dropped from the vocabulary and has been replaced with a self-righteousness that demands God’s acknowledgment that “well, we aren’t perfect, I try, He knows we’re only human…”
Examine yourself. Watch the video at the end of this blog post for a worthy time to set aside to do so. Otherwise, you may be sending your children into the same ditch of good works and pride, which will never open that narrow gate into heaven no matter how fervently or sincerely you believe otherwise.
If you have ever been or are in despair over your own sins, then congratulations. God has revealed to you in His mercy how wretched, how blasphemous, how unkind and unloving you really are. You cry out like the psalmist,
Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy…
because you acknowledge that not only are you a sinner, but it’s even worse than you believe. You know you are a liar, a thief. You are like the young tax collector in Luke 18:10-14, contrasted with the Pharisee who stood upon his own works and his own “truth”.
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
The Gospel does offend us (because we are so pride filled!) To acknowledge the Gospel is to REPENT. And the Christian life is a life of REPENTANCE. And it is putting your trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, who, dying on that cross at Easter time paid the fine for your sins so you may be free, indeed. It is loving your enemy and tithing and all else in gratitude for so great a salvation, not to try to bribe the Judge to overlook all the “minor” sins you’ve committed that “aren’t as bad as some people.” As I heard a pastor once say, you can’t have a real mercy, a real “Amazing Grace”, without a real wrath before it. Have you ever humbled yourself in light of your own sins, ever really repented?
If you cannot acknowledge the Gospel, your children will grow up under you in their own pride as well. And Easter will only be about pastel colors and spring and the cliches we see all over our world.
Do you want to teach your children the true meaning of Easter? Well, then you must tell them! You must show them from God’s Word why Christmas and Easter were necessary, why the Old Testament pointed to Jesus Christ in every book, why even Creation and their very own consciences cry out that there is a good and holy and righteous God who is not only angry with the wicked every day (the unrepentant), but is rich in mercy towards the humble who repent and put their trust in Him.
Telling this to your children is not the job of the church, the Sunday school, the cute little cartoony kid’s story Bible, or even the pastor. It is YOUR job. Their response will be their response; they are individuals and will either come under their own convictions or not as God wills. But God forbid we “keep our religion to ourselves” as if we really didn’t believe the Truth at all.
Lastly, you must live the Gospel. You must apologize to your children when you’re wrong. You must quietly go about your own business and seek to honor God even under your own roof. Let them see you wrangle with Scripture, pray often, and in making decisions know you are at least trying to operate out of Biblical principles. Remind them of grace, and live that out or you will only create little moralists whose food is the pride of life. Speak of your love of God, how grateful you are that He saved a wretch like you, how you were blind but now you see. Let them see you humble yourself to treat your enemies with goodness and service, and let them know the law of kindness from your tongue. Let them know that yes, we war against the flesh and our sins still, but we are saved by God’s grace and can live in peace and quietness in the shadow of His wings.
Are you ready for Easter? Examine and prepare your own heart first with the true Gospel of salvation, and then you will be empowered to tell your children its true meaning. You’ll be better able to understand the deep love and wide mercy of God’s Redemption, and truly worship Him that sunrise morning His victory over the grave.
You can check out the other High Five Mom blogs in the next few days with their ideas on teaching the true meaning of Easter.