Remember “chain letters?”
They were an absolute scourge back in my youth. You’d be minding your own business and out of the blue you’d get a letter basically telling you to make ten copies and send it on to ten of your friends… and if you didn’t by golly, all kinds of horrible doo-doo was going to rain down on your life.
Some of the letters went so far as to claim that people who ‘broke the chain’ mysteriously died (usually under horrific circumstances) within days. Some letters had a “religious” theme to them, others demanded you send along money. The whole thing was totally messed up, and even though I didn’t take the threats seriously, they still really bothered the heck outta me.
Of course those were my teen years, and chain letters were just the precursor to many other life-examples of forced compliance. In fact as I got older and familiarized myself with various religions, it surprised me that many struck that familiar “chain letter” tone.
My pastor has a line that he uses frequently when he discusses the difference between the world’s faiths, he says “Most of the world’s religions are focused on what you should do for God, ours is focused on what He has done for you.”
Don’t get me wrong, as Christians we are charged to do good in this world and model our lives after Christ..but we are to do so under the umbrella of God’s love, motivated by a desire to please Him, NOT because we fear some cosmic, chain-letter style repercussion if we don’t.
For me, this is what Easter is all about, the celebration of Christ as the one who (quite literally) went through hell to give me the immeasurable GIFT of eternal life and the freedom to live in the light and warmth of His forgiveness, compassion and love.
No chain letter, no threats, just an invitation.
No need to bring or prove anything, just come as you are.