I don’t think there is much doubt about our culture moving “post-Christian.” Our collective morality continues to decline while the religious category of “none” is on the rise. But it is also true that our society is probably not quite as “post-Christian” as people may think. One piece of evidence in this direction is that, across the South, church attendance soars twice a year: Christmas and Easter. Why is this? While the culture may be moving away from its religious roots, culture and the church are still somewhat intertwined. As a Christian, and pastor, I want to call upon us all to take full advantage of the age in which we live. If people are more open to coming to church on Easter in our society, then by all means, let’s invite them in!
The Opportunity Is Ours and Definitely Yours
An important piece of our church’s strategy for inviting the community on Easter rests squarely on the shoulders of our eighteen to twenty-two year old population. College students, for the rest of this blog I want to speak directly to you. While the entire church is concerned with inviting people from their relational circles this Easter, you may have the greatest opportunity for a wide impact on the Triad.
College is a unique time. These four years put you in a tremendous amount of relationships. You also have an unparalleled amount of time to invest in those relationships because of class schedules and a more communal living model. All of this produces quite the opportunity for you to invite friends, classmates, roommates, and suitemates. This is no exaggeration; you may never have the opportunity for so much fruit from “come and see” sharing again. Are you taking advantage of it? One easy way is to stay for Easter!
Over Easter weekend there will be hundreds of students on all the campuses of the Triad. I know many will leave on break, but many will not. Some will have to work and others will stay behind to get ahead with school or athletics; still others won’t leave because they have no place to go. What would happen if there were dozens of Mercy Hill college students who intentionally stayed behind in order to ask them to “come and see”? Staying for Easter may feel like a sacrifice especially if you have family pulling you home or friends that have made extravagant plans. But, as Christians, are we not called to give ourselves away in order that others might see the treasure we’ve found?
What Does the Story of the Paralytic Have to Do with Easter?
The story of Jesus forgiving the paralytic man in Luke 5 has always been a favorite of mine. I think I like it so much because it drips of love, friendship, determination, and passion. In the story, a few friends of a paralyzed man know that their friend desperately needs to see Jesus. They cannot get to Jesus, however, because the crowds are so dense. Rather than giving up and going on about their day, they haul the man onto the roof, cut out a hole, and lower him down! Jesus ends up healing the man physically and spiritually. This story has always made me ask one question: what lengths am I willing to go to bring those in my circles to Christ? How easily do I give in and move on, rather than selflessly giving myself away for the sake of others?
Maybe you don’t feel the motivation and passion to bring those people around you to Jesus at all costs. If that’s you, I can identify with you because I have been there many times myself. What do we do? I think the first thing is to realize that, in the story, we erroneously place ourselves in the shoes of the friends first! But the story of our lives is not that we have always been the ones trying to get a paralyzed friend to Jesus. Rather, we were first and foremost the paralyzed one because of sin. The Bible goes a step further in Ephesians 2: we weren’t just paralyzed but dead in our sin before God. But Jesus in his grace and mercy has made us alive.
Whenever we first became Christians, it was because someone else had the passion to remove barriers and reveal Jesus to us. We were on the mat but now can shout and dance for joy over all that God has and will do for us! When the well of our gratitude is deep, the living water will flow from us into others. This can take many forms, but one of them is certainly to capitalize on this Easter season and invite many from your campus to come and see. My prayer for you is to decide to stay for Easter and see what type of impact God may have on others through your obedience to him.
-Andrew Hopper (Lead Pastor)