Reason 1: You might develop the habit of joyfulness, and overall, people get suspicious when you are deeply happy. And if you are also wildly hopeful, expect to get labeled Pollyanna or Naïve or Fanatic. Happiness and joy must always be tempered by appropriate levels of guilt and worry and good sense.
Reason 2: You might begin to live as if the Kingdom of God has already arrived, and that’s just outlandish and disruptive. If you believe the kingdom has arrived, you’ll stop caring about your stuff and your status and the importance of being right all the time. And you’ll start caring in an obsessive way about people who are poor or in trouble or mentally ill or whose presence in general will ruin any party. In fact, you might start ignoring important social functions in order to care for people who make the rest of us uncomfortable, which can make friends, neighbors, and family start worrying about your mental stability.
Reason 3: You might walk around free and reformed because you truly believe that Christ has defeated evil. Which would be fine, except that now you will presume to refuse evil any power over your own thoughts, words, and actions—and if you take such profound responsibility for your own life, how will that make the rest of us look?
Reason 4: You might live as if you are completely forgiven and free of guilt. That looks good on paper, but in reality, if you do not labor under the assumption that you are guilty of something, then no one on earth will have any power to manipulate you. How do you think leaders keep societies under control? Guilt and fear form the magic combination. If you believe that God’s forgiveness is comprehensive and ultimate, then you won’t care about what other people think of you. How will we get you to do what we want if there’s no such thing as peer pressure?
Reason 5: You might stop fearing death because you take the whole Jesus-conquered-death thing literally. A person unafraid to die has way too much power. Again, we need some fear in you or we’ll lose control over your dreams and desires and, frankly, your wallet. If too many people stop fearing death (or suffering), imagine all the assurances and insurances they will be unwilling to buy.
To sum up: Enjoy the great music and the mountains of Easter lilies and the children’s choir and the dramatic interpretations of the biblical story. Hey—it’s spring! Some extra joy and color are appropriate. But please—be reasonable. Don’t let the message overwhelm your whole life. That would be too weird.
- Which aspect of the Easter story is most difficult for you to believe on a daily basis?
- Which aspect of the Easter story has had the most dramatic impact on your life?
- Which aspect of the Easter story do you long to embrace more fully this year?