By Mac McPhail Contributing columnist
April 20, 2014
“I am not a crook.” Those famous lines were stated by President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal back in the Seventies. Why did he say that? Well, whether right or wrong, most Americans thought he was one. President Nixon, in his statement, was trying to counteract a common public perception of himself and his presidency.
Today, you see the same efforts by politicians, business and institutions to try to battle a real, or perceived, opinion of themselves by the public. They know that decisions are made on the perception of reality, whether it is the truth or not. Republicans are constantly trying to battle the perception that they are against women and minorities. Democrats are constantly trying to fight the perception that they are against capitalism and for big government. Whether any of these are true, the perception is there. That’s why you’ll often see politicians from both parties, and their supporting media, trying to highlight anything that can counteract that negative opinion which could cost votes.
I’ve noticed over the past few years that many churches are changing the way they present themselves to the public. In an effort to reach a younger generation, they promote a more casual style, with more contemporary music on a concert-like stage. While I may never get used to a pastor preaching with his shirt tail hanging out, (I supposed I was told too many times when I was young to tuck mine in!) I realize that times have changed and I support the effort of these churches in reaching the unchurched. An interesting aspect of many churches today is their stated desire for their message to be applicable to today’s world. The word you will see used often is “relevant.” Why would churches emphasize the point that the church and its message is relevant to today’s society? Well, maybe it’s because there is a large portion of the population that thinks it isn’t.
While I don’t agree, I can understand why there are so many that think that the church and the message of Jesus Christ has little to do with the world they are living in. Today’s world is so different from that of Jerusalem in the days of Jesus. Why should I change the way I am living to follow Jesus? Why should the life of a man who lived over two thousand years ago change the way I live today? In other words, they feel that Jesus isn’t relevant.
Today is Easter Sunday, and the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. It is that death and resurrection that makes Jesus relevant today. Because we all need a Saviour. Just as much now, as ever. And deep inside, we all know it, whether we acknowledge it or not.
The problem we have, and that we all have had since creation, is sin. We ignore it, try to explain it away, but it’s still there. Something inside of us isn’t right, and we know it. It affects the way we live our lives, and our relationships with others. While Dr. Phil and those self-help books can help somewhat, the problem remains. Our nature and our actions have separated us from our Creator, our God. Our sin has separated us from God.
In the Bible, Paul, in the Book of Romans explains this problem and its cure. Romans 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That’s you, me, every one. In Romans 6:23 Paul explained that “the wages of sin is death.” Sin costs us a lot in this life, and death is the final payment for our sin. But the message of Easter is “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Paul wrote that Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for our sin was a “free gift” (Romans 6:23) and that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
There are many who now look at Easter as a long weekend off, with maybe an Easter egg hunt for the kids. They are indifferent to its meaning. But Jesus was not indifferent toward us when he was nailed to the cross for our sins. He paid a price he didn’t owe, because we owed a price we couldn’t pay. Today, they probably won’t sing many of the traditional Easter hymns at those churches that are trying to be more relevant to today’s culture. But if they did, they might sing “Christ, the Lord is risen today!” Today, for me and you. And that’s pretty relevant.