We need Easter more than ever by Dr Rob Nyhuis
National Chair, Churches of Christ Council in Australia
The Gospel has taken a pounding in recent years from those rightly indignant at the excesses and abuses of some Christian leaders over past decades. Decline, though, just means a bigger mission field and a larger target to hit with a message needed more than ever before.
We can remind ourselves this Easter, too, that flawed messengers don’t invalidate the message.
Faith is attested by archaeological proof of the Bible, by prophecies fulfilled in Christ hundreds of years after being written and circulated, by the positive observations of hostile witnesses in the first century, by the willing deaths of early Christians, and by the transformed lives of many today. Christianity cannot be verified beyond all doubt, but it can be verified beyond reasonable doubt.
This Easter, Christians Australia-wide have an opportunity to live out their faith with pride. Maybe fewer people are Christians today than ever before, but a great many are Christians still. This Winter, the number of monthly churchgoers will still well exceed the attendances at AFL, NRL, A League, and Super Rugby games combined. This reminds us we can still confidently honour Jesus.
After all, people are still coming to faith, worshipping weekly, and proving themselves inquisitive. Recent research shows that four in ten are open to spiritual conversations, a number rising to 50% for younger Australians, and 38% of Aussies are open to being invited to church, 73% by a close contact!
When society rejects religion in the workplace, Christians still connect outside of hours and continue to pray for their colleagues more fervently. When sceptics laugh at the notion of a miraculous Creator, Christians offer a living God more plausible than a causeless universe. When people intimidate with caustic questions or disparaging remarks, Christians respond with dignity and love.
This Easter, we once again proclaim Jesus who is alive. He died to repair our broken relationship with God by taking the punishment for sin (no matter how small) upon himself. His resurrection broke sin’s hold and triumphed over death. Through this, we come back to God, and he grants us access to eternal life. That brings hope, healing, restoration, and grace. More people need him than ever before, so the messsage is therefore also needed more than ever before. Jesus has not been tried and found wanting, even if forms of religion or some of its representatives have been.
Surely, the Good News about Christ is worth celebrating this Easter, but it is also worth proclaiming with conviction and passion by those who have already embraced it and therefore know of its transforming power.