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Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Most Important Day Ever

Today is Easter Sunday, the celebration of Jesus Christ rising from the dead. I think it can be successfully argued that today is a celebration of the most important day in the history of the world. Think that's a merely Christian viewpoint? I would take a position that it's not merely religious.

The resurrection of Christ is the linchpin of Christian theology. Yes, we celebrate His birth on Christmas, and that is a much bigger holiday in secular societies than is Easter. But as important as that date was, it is not the most important one. Yes, the fact that Jesus was born and the circumstances of his birth are crucial and we should indeed celebrate it. But if He had been born, lived, and died, that would not have influenced the world in the same way as His resurrection.

You see, Christianity doesn't rest on the birth of Jesus or even His death, as great as these events were. Jesus claimed to be God, claimed that He could forgive sins, and claimed that only through Him could people find a place in Heaven. His death and subsequent resurrection showed that He had the power of God, for only God could rise from the dead. If Jesus had stayed dead, it wouldn't have impacted His followers. In fact, after His crucifixion, the Disciples were all despondent and scattered. Only after His return from the grave were people willing to die to share Jesus' message. Only by rising from the dead did Christ prove that he actually could forgive sins and prove that everything he claimed was actually true.

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:14-17)

Okay, that's fine and good for us Christians. But how is this the most important day ever? No matter what anyone may think, and for all the good and bad done in the name of God, it seems clear that Christianity has had a stronger influence on the last 2000 years of world history than any other culture or religion. Even though people like the Chinese have a longer continuous cultural identity, they haven't has as wide-reaching of an impact as have Christians of various nations. Incredible good and horrible evils have been done in the name of the Christian god. Numerous wars have been started over disputes among Christian sects and between Christians and non-Christians. Most colleges, hospitals, and charitable organizations in Western society have their start in Christianity.

None of this would have happened if Jesus had not been resurrected. If He had remained in His grave, Christianity would never have been started. And if there had been no Christianity, our world would be a much different place. But even more importantly, we would have no way into Heaven.

So I wish everyone a Happy Easter! Have fun with your eggs, candy, and gifts from the Easter Bunny. But don't forget the true importance of this day, and that it is a celebration of the triumph of life over death, eternal life over eternal damnation.