Resurrection Sunday is Not Easter
I have always belonged to a non-denominational church which categorized itself as Spirit-Filled. Many of these churches viewed many holidays in light of its origins. For me, the time of Easter has always been called, Resurrection Sunday. Easter was something that pagans practiced so it was left out completely.
You say tomatoe, I say tomato
Most people might think that calling the time period we celebrate Jesus’ Life and Death Easter is okay. That it’s just a naming problem—symantics. I call it one thing, and others call it another thing. It’s just a name so what’s the big deal? If only the name was the only thing that was taken from Easter and applied to a blessed event, but more of the pagan rituals crept in.
Where does the idea of Easter come from and how did it become part of the Christian Church? There is plenty of information on the internet that can discuss this at greater length, but here is the brief version.
The name Easter is believed to come from the name of a goddess named Eostre.
When it came to the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, there were similar stories and myths, that were promoted in History. The concept of a virgin born savior of the world who would rise from the dead was found in other pagan belief systems to invoke the worship of gods that brought bountiful harvests. Some even believed that Christians borrowed elements of these pagan systems of belief to make Jesus more relevant to the pagans.
The official Church, in about 200A.D., in an attempt to make Jesus more acceptable, merged the Death and Resurrection with the spring time celebration of fertility and prosperity found in an agricultural society.
Let’s define words, Pagan? Believer? Church?
Pagan is not the last name of the Spanish couple on the fifth floor. A pagan is someone who has not made a commitment to follow Jesus the Christ. In essence, it’s everyone and every practice that has its origin outside of the Christian belief system. A modern word used in many Bibles is Gentile or Unbeliever.
Believer is any person who places their faith in the life of Jesus Christ and pursues a life that’s acceptable to His Word, the Bible. Normally, it refers to people who believe that God plays an active part in their lives and they spend their lives pursuing His purpose and ways.
Church (the physical) is defined as a structure that contains believers. Church (the spiritual) is defined as a person who has professed faith in Jesus Christ and is a believer. It is a global-organization that includes different Christian practices and names given to these practices and varying depths of understanding (denominations).
Resurrection Sunday is not a celebration for the unbeliever. Why? Because the cross is foolishness to the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is not suppose to entice them into a relationship with Jesus Christ. The cross is suppose to draw believers to Christ through the understanding that we are sinners, that sin has kept us from a loving relationship with God and the Cross removes that sin from our lives therefore we are no longer kept from a loving relationship with God. That sin-confrontation is the Cross. The Cross causes people to stumble because it reveals sin. You cannot celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ as an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 4:3).
Attempting to make Jesus into something more acceptable has always been a major problem with the Church.
Why Does Easter Bother Me So Much?
Hey, why don’t I just relax and not sweat the small stuff? Isn’t it okay to take the message of Christ and make it more acceptable? You know, “A spoonful of sugar, makes the medicine go down.” I can’t resolve within my mind the idea that the Cross is in need of more relevance. The Good News, the Gospel, the Message is an offensive message. It cannot be changed to appear like it is another tool to put into our tool belt as good citizens of the planet earth.
Back to my personal story, I mentioned that we were normally part of a church that was Spirit-filled. Now we go to a church that is differently focused. The idea of Easter and egg hunts are a totally acceptable part of the Church service.
For quite a few days leading up to the Easter Church service I was torn between telling my son that he could not participate in the egg hunt. I couldn’t reconcile the idea that this was part of the Death and Resurrection of my Savior. Is this how I celebrated all that He did for me? Is this what I wanted to teach my children, that the painful death, the sin of all mankind, the paying for my sins and the unbelievable glorious resurrection, could be equated to finding fake, candy-filled eggs?
I know now that I made the wrong decision. Celebrating Easter is a fun holiday with candy, cheer, prosperity, egg hunts and friendship, but it has nothing to do with the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Absolutely nothing! This was the last time I compromise my beliefs and participate in Easter’s practices(Galatians 5:9).
After-word: What I am not talking about.
I wanted to ensure you the reader understand what I am not talking about. I am not talking about using Easter as an opportunity to reach the lost. By this I mean, having a distinct event that might have all the trappings of Easter, to share the Gospel.
It’s like Paul on Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-34). He used what the people understood culturally, an altar to an unknown God, and transformed it into an opportunity to let them know about The Known God, Jesus Christ. Paul did not continue to use the Unknown God’s altar in his church services or transport it to the church culture. He used what was relevant to the culture to bring people to Christ. Which in turn, made that particular relevant item (idol worship) irrelevant (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
By using the sinful culture to attract unbelievers, we reveal Christ’s superiority to the culture, then abolish the sinful culture.
Lord, I don’t know why we let things come into your Church and we call it a reflection of You. I can only ask for help, both for me and my church, that we would be more cautious with what we allow to become part of the church culture. Help us, forgive us. We want to do Your will. Amen.
This blog is by no means a definitive study on Easter, so if you have any more questions, just put them in the comment section.