Gisborne Herald Weekender - Easter Column 2014
by Stewart Patrick
Easter is a pleasant time of the year for many – a holiday, family gatherings, weddings, chocolate and tasty food – all those hopefully nourishing your body and soul (mind, will and emotions). But Easter celebrations at its centre are around death and new life and it is a time when all should ask, “How am I doing in my spirit? How am I actually at my centre, my heart beliefs?”
Just a casual look at our society, shows that all is not well at both our individual and collective ‘centre’ this Easter time. Lawmakers surely must admit they have no answers to people’s deep problems and subsequent poor choices, and so this year we have yet more chemical substances available to individuals that may briefly mask a deep centred pain, but will degrade and destroy the person. This week we learned Gisborne/Tairawhiti tops the suicide rate in NZ but we also know suicide as an option to escape deep pain, is a problem that the rich and famous struggle with equally. Don Brash admitted this week he seriously contemplated suicide as he struggled with failed marriages, guilt from affairs and behaviours he cannot explain, that brought him to a deep trough of depression.
The message of Easter is fantastic news for these and any who will look away from their addictions, issues and messed up identity, and see Jesus. He declared; "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life”. (John 3:16 MSG). Then the Apostle Paul says to those who do believe on the Son of God; “There, away from any effort of your own, discover how the God of perfect peace, who fused you skillfully into oneness – just like a master craftsman would dovetail a carpentry joint – has personally perfected and sanctified the entire harmony of your being without your help! He has restored the detailed default settings. You were re-booted to fully participate in the life of your design, in your spirit, soul and body in blameless innocence in the immediate presence of our Lord Jesus Christ”. (1 Thessalonians 5:23 Mirror Bible)
Do you see it? A ‘whole life’ involves spirit, soul and body and who is responsible for making it whole? It is God – not you! So what must I do, that God will not do for me? I must choose. Not even wisdom can override choice; people must choose. The Prodigal (reckless) Son in Jesus famous parable in Luke chapter 15 is not chased after by the Father, but he is let go, gets to rock bottom and there it says “he came to himself”. As he reflected on his true sinful state at the centre of his being, then choosing to take a step toward the father, the father runs toward him and welcomes him home with a grand party.
There is a deception involving the belief by those who need to make a choice that they cannot do so, that it is impossible in certain areas of life to choose a different way. Many believe they are stuck with their obsessions, addictions, anger, self-righteousness and all other deeds of their flesh life – body and soul life. We hate to be confronted with this truth, but we are doing exactly what we want to do and chose to do. A man may say “I’m addicted to pornography”, but you can bet he is not watching it when he is with his wife and children, so how can he be ‘addicted’ when he is choosing when and where he watches pornography? We are not unable to choose; we simply do not want to choose the right thing. At that point we are in unbelief in Jesus Christ’s work in us and constantly choosing against Him. We have to decide between the words of Jesus in our spirit or the voice of our flesh – living solely from our body and soul desires. When we choose the voice of our flesh life, it is an inescapable fact that we have chosen bondage and have chosen on the side that resists the Spirit. We are where we are today by personal choice.
The Cross of Christ this Easter invites you to recognize this incredible mysterious truth - that your inner life was killed with Him on that cross that Good Friday and a new inner life of the resurrected Jesus Christ is waiting to be revealed in you by His Holy Spirit. It’s your choice. What will you do with it?
Leader, Mangapapa Church
Corner Atkinson Street and Ormond Road