This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series here. Published only on Sundays.
Did you ever wonder about what all the fuss was about the Christian holiday called Easter? Did you think it was about a Spring Festival, or an Easter egg hunt? Or something about Easter baskets, Spring dresses and a Honey Baked Ham with relatives?
If so, well, here is the short version of the real Easter story for you…
Imagine “waking up” one day to the conclusion that you were put on a planet called Earth for reasons outside of your selfish desires, your personal gain, or the plans that you may have. You conclude that there is something greater than you and sort of all-encompassing that is making things tick. You just kind of “woke up” to this notion.
Upon investigation, you come to the conclusion that there is some kind of “master plan” developed by some super-genius. You find out that the super-genius is made of pure love, defined by true justice, mercy and grace. He is also perfect. I mean, really, he is flawless in every imaginable and unimaginable way.
You like this and want more.
You also find out that the planet you were born on has some stupid curse for anyone who was born there. The curse will damn you to eternal punishment just because you were born in the wrong place. The curse is on you and everyone else around for a transgression that was made against the super-genius. He damned everybody because some ancestors broke the rules and created an environment that made the planet no longer perfect. This means that everyone born here will become guilty of also messing up, too. When people born here have their lifelong journey end, it looks like they are destined to not make it back to a perfect place with super-genius. So, unless something changes, your path is set toward the place where all stained people go. Because perfection is the standard by which you are measured, you probably aren’t going to make the mark because it is inevitable that your not perfect. And it’s a bummer for you.
Eternal Curse?? Sheesh! That’ll leave a mark!
Justice – Getting What You Deserve
Imagine this: That everyone who has the stain on them is on some kind of virtual conveyor belt taking them through time. The people located way out in front of you were born much before you. The people behind you were born after you. The conveyor belt of “the damned” dumps all into a fiery lake called Hell. And you never get out. Bummer. As a super-genius of justice determines: you have the stain, so you must pay the penalty.
Of course, the only thing you did was to be non-perfect.
Confused, you ask why this super-genius built of love would put everyone he created on some conveyor belt to a painful fiery eternal death. This doesn’t seem very loving to you, does it? Then you find out that the super-genius is also really big on justice. So, if you were born on the conveyor belt of the damned (for stuff you didn’t even do,) it would make sense that you would have to pay the price for this stain.
Mercy – Not Getting What You Deserve
So if super-genius also is made of mercy, where does that fit in? Well, that is easy.
Imagine someone coming to you and pleading their case to have a punishment not exacted on them because they were a distant accomplice to a crime, and not the real offender. Well super-genius gets this. He provides the conveyor belt ride with some good times, some great music, good eats, and all the opportunity to live free. You get some wiggle room to come to the conclusion that super-genius loves you . He loves you more than you can ever imagine. Even though you do stupid stuff all the time. You know what I mean by mercy: any parent still loves their kid even though they do stupid stuff. They show them mercy.
But the conveyor belt continues. Justice must prevail. The price for the stain must be paid.
Grace – Getting What You Do Not Deserve
The conveyor belt to eternal destruction does actually have an exit. And the exit is awesome!! It takes you directly to super-genius’s mansion! The place is perfect! It is spotless and everything is fresh. It is the EXACT opposite of that fiery Hell place.
Dude, it’s paved in gold! And you get a new body. And NO TAXES!!!
Because the mansion of super-genius is spotless, no stained people are allowed. Stained people would mess it up. Super-genius won’t foul up his place! But super-genius wants you to come stay at his place for ever. But everybody is stained?!?! How can people get in?
What to do?
Super-genius decides to give people a second chance to get clean. But he has to follow the rules of justice that require payment for infractions. So he hatches a plan that will work to clean the stained and provide an exit for folks on the conveyor belt. Since he is perfect, he sent his son named Jesus, who is also perfect, down to the conveyor belt to clean things up.
Unfortunately, not everybody is agreeing with the “stained thing” and is just enjoying the ride.
The plan was for the son to come down, show that he was perfect and that he was sent from super-genius, and invite others to allow him to clean them up so that they could exit the conveyor belt and avoid the penalty of Hell. And part of that plan was to personally take on the stain of others to his very person so that the stain could be destroyed and allow a free pass to everyone.
Only Jesus would qualify for this role because he was perfect. The perfection standard requires a perfect sacrifice. And Jesus is just the ticket!
But you guessed it, not everyone was buying the “Jesus is the son of super-genius” story. So, just as super-genius designed, the rebellious ones on the conveyor belt accused Jesus of crimes and tortured and killed him in the most dreadful, painful, and humiliating way. Of course, Jesus did this willingly because he knew what his role was to provide that exit strategy for you. And since the dude is perfect, he resurrected to a new life and overcame death. Penalty paid! This was perfect because it allowed the son of super-genius to take on all the stains of everybody and take the punishment for them. Then come back to provide free “grace” tickets to paradise!
Only one catch for conveyor belt people… you have to stop what you were doing and jump on the Jesus train. But once you do, your assured a seat that cannot be taken away. This is your guaranteed ticket to paradise!
Also, there is more good news! Once you jump on that train, you will be empowered with his super powers inside of you as part of the grace ticket. Of course, the rest of your ride will have its normal ups and downs as you will undoubtedly still do stupid stuff, but you have options to reduce, minimize, and stop with that stupid stuff as you turn form those old ways. And more great news, you don’t get kicked off the train for messing up. Instead, you get internal reminders that work on you to improve your thoughts and behaviors the next time a similar situation in life comes up. These reminders are great because they help you reflect on what was done for you to get on the train and feel bad about your personal behaviors. He will help help you mature as you try to show his pure love to all others. He provided the template for pure love, and with this, he equips you to be molded into his likeness. You get empowered to stop doing the stupid stuff, turn from those old ways of “stained” behaviors, and start anew in a fresh direction.
You will be empowered to understand and model things like justice, mercy and grace. You will also be equipped to better use compassion, forgiveness, integrity and a lot of other good-guy stuff as a results of your continuing to understand his plan for you. This happens as you mature to really understand the gift that he gave you. It changes you and helps you relax and rest through the trials in life as your trip continues. He even gives you a book to help you learn how to make it through each day aboard that train!
As you continue of the Jesus train, the more you act unselfishly and give up your plans for his for the sake of Jesus and his unseen and slowly revealed plan, the less stress you have and happier you become, too! It’s kind of wierd, but it really works better when you follow the plan. And it also works on those people around you who are watching and following you.
So, conveyor belt people, this was the way to the exit off the conveyor belt. In fact, super-genius said that this is the only way to his mansion. Otherwise, it is punishment-land for you. You see, someone has to pay the price. And Jesus provides that ticket to you because he paid the price. He earned it on your behalf. You can’t work for it because, as a non-perfect person, you don’t qualify. Accepting his free ticket cleans you and prepares you for an eternal life in perfection in the mansion.
As it turns out, this is a pretty good deal! It’s free! That is why people celebrate Easter!
Conveyor Belt Reality
Here’s the deal: Stay on the conveyor belt and perish; or accept the free ticket, exit through the narrow gate, and make your way to perfect-land. That’s it. And oh, this is the real story of Easter. Jesus died for your stain, took the punishment for you, and overcame death be resurrecting so that you had someone to follow. And you would live in the mansion with Jesus and super-genius forever! And the ride there is way better!
The bunnies and eggs are fun and cool, too!!
And by the way, no other leader who has ever walked the Earth has had as many willing followers. Now that’s a leader!
So, if you want to be REALLY influential, remember to sacrifice for your team, take punches for them, serve them to the point of your own peril. They will love you!
Image Source: i120.photobucket.com