Pastor's Corner: Can you coexist with Easter?By John Crotts, Faith Bible Church
Driving along, you have probably encountered that bold bumper sticker which simply says “Coexist,” with each of the letters cleverly adapting symbols of the world’s major religions.
On one level this is a simple message that most people should appreciate. But is that really the whole story?
That is the kind of Coexistence we can agree upon. It is perfectly OK to have different opinions about religious things. We should respect one another, live together and work together for the good of our community and country.
But I’m suspicious that many people who broadcast the Coexist message on their bumpers mean more than that. There is an underlying assumption in our society that all religions are basically the same. They all teach the same basic truth with slight modifications with how it works out based on the historical and cultural situations in which they were founded.
This is not true.
While there are some teachings common in most religions, there are also massive differences. Plus, the most important differences actually create polar opposites between some of them. In other words, they can’t all be the truth.
For example, if one religion said that Adolf Hitler was a saint while another religion claimed he was an insane murderer, it could be expected that advocates of these different religions could coexist. They could disagree agreeably. They could respect many things about the other people. Maybe they could make bumper stickers together.
But, they would not both be right about Hitler. They would not both be true and worthwhile religions. Just because our country would let the St. Hitler Society exist, doesn’t mean we give it credibility. We don’t have to believe it to tolerate the people that believe it.
Tomorrow is Easter.
Easter is the special Sunday that Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died on the cross in the place of sinners and then on the third day, he literally, bodily rose again from the dead. The Bible says he is every bit as alive as you and I are. There is literal blood flowing through his veins. He ate and drank in front of eye-witness followers after being dead.
Because of this reality, Christianity is different. It can Coexist with the other religions, but it is not the same as other religions.
One of the biggest claims of any religion is to get you ready for the afterlife. A few people think we will just disappear, but most know there is more to our existence than just this life. Some think we will be reincarnated as something else, but most acknowledge that there will be some kind of personal accounting with some kind of God.
Jesus has been there and done that. He has come back from the dead. He is the only one to put the divine stamp of authenticity on all that he said and did. He is different.
Perhaps you have celebrated Easter with your family each year, but have you ever considered the serious implications of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? All four Gospels in the New Testament almost spend half of their pages focusing on the final week of Jesus life. They all include accounts of his sufferings and bloody crucifixion. All four tell that on the third day Jesus Christ literally rose from the dead.
Surprisingly, the Gospels include details to verify the nature of Jesus’ resurrection. Luke records Jesus calling his disciples over to touch him to prove that he wasn’t some phantom (Luke 24:39). He also describes Jesus eating a piece of broiled fish (Luke 24:42, 43).
John records Jesus’ interaction with Thomas. Thomas was a skeptic – not a believer – at the time. Jesus told him to literally touch his nail scars and to put his hand in the spear hole in his side (John 20:27).
Another verifier of the accuracy of the Gospel accounts is that they record that Mary Magdalene was the first one at the tomb and the first to see Jesus alive again (John 20:1-18). In the ancient world, women were second class citizens. Their testimony wasn’t even permitted in the courts. If the disciples were deceitfully trying to just make it look like Jesus rose again, this was not the way to begin.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus taught his own exclusivity. Supposedly sweet and understanding, Jesus taught that everyone who makes up another way to heaven is wrong. All those who choose to reject him for the other religions on the bumper sticker will be judged for eternity.
How about you? Are you just comfortable coexisting with all of the religions because you assume they are all pretty much the same and that you are good enough to be right with God?
The reality of the resurrection challenges you. All that Jesus did and said is real and true. He calls you this very day to bow the knee before him.
Stop trying to be good enough to earn God’s favor. Admit that you can never do so and receive his free forgiveness through his cross. Become his follower beginning today.
If you are already a believer in Jesus, would you please stop and pray for the Coexisters today? It is good to tolerate other religions, but it is not good to act as though they are all equally valid.
Ask the Lord to make this Easter like no other for them. If you know a person who believes like this, challenge them to read straight through one of the Gospels. May the Lord open their hearts to repent of their sins and believe the truth about him.
I hope you have a Happy Resurrection Day!