Life After Holy Week

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So it’s Tuesday, two days after Easter or Resurrection Sunday.  How has your day been so far?

Are we all back to work? Back to our world, our reality.

We are back taking the long queue at the MRT station to report for work. We are back to sitting in traffic to reach our destination. We are back to fixing, managing, editing, helping, curing, healing, strategizing, talking, learning, preparing and doing what we do for work, business and the home.

Photo by Chelsea Francis

After what’s considered as the holiest week of the year, how’s your heart? How about our thoughts? How about our attitude towards ourself and other people? Has it not been changed after a few days of “reflection” and “meditation”?

We were told to “magbalik loob sa Diyos” (get right with God) during the Holy Week. By tradition, we glue our eyes watching Lenten Specials on TV. We commemorate the passion and death of Christ.  We cry over the crucifixion scene. We feel sorry for Him and what He had to go through.

I used to do that. I tried to be good, obedient, and religious especially during the Lenten season. I felt sad, maybe shed a tear or two after reflecting on what Christ has done. But that’s it. The sobs did not create a lasting change in me. I was the same selfish person right after Easter Sunday.

After years of adhering to rituals and traditions, it came to a point where I asked what is the meaning of all these? I tried my best to be good but it didn’t work. I was still the same person. The proud, angry, indifferent me looms behind the gregarious girl. Those self-help books and talk shows did not really create a new heart in me. So my question remains, will there ever be any lasting change in my life? Will I ever get out of the sinful life I am living?

There seem to be some sad ending to my story. But then I heard the Good News and it was indeed “good news”.  After hearing this awesome news, I realized there is indeed HOPE after all. There is HOPE for my weary, sinful soul.  I was introduced to the truth that the only hope is found in Jesus alone. But before you raise your eyebrows and close the tab on your pc or phone, will you read on please?

We were taught, at a young age, that Jesus came down from heaven to be man in order to fulfill the mission God has for Him. The mission was to die on the cross for the payment of my sins, and yours too. And that was it. The lesson ended when Jesus resurrected after three days.

But there is more to that fateful Sunday 2000 years ago. Because He lives, there is hope for you and me.

22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us,knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side[e] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22-24 

God barred Adam and Eve from entering the Garden of Eden after committing their sin of pride. After that tragic day in the Garden, all of man’s effort to be reunited with God has fallen short. Up to this day, all of us have been doing our best to reach God. We try following traditions, helping the needy, donating to some charity, praying for other people, being part of a religion, trying to follow the commandments. We do this hoping that somehow we can earn our way back to God. Unfortunately, because we are imperfect and sinners for that matter, we can never reach a perfect and holy God. His standards are so high that even the most religious person on earth cannot reach God. Why? Because He too is imperfect like you and me.

Frustrating? Yes it is! Especially if we have been doing these good things for the Lord: being good, being religious,  and doing as our ancestors did before us. We have been used to the idea of earning “heaven” points. But the Bible clearly tells us otherwise.

Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves;it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it.

Try to chew on those verses for a bit and let it sink in your heart…What does it mean then?

God does not look at what we “do” for Him. He does applaud every good deed but He does not reward those deeds with tickets to heaven. He does not do that. Salvation has to be His way and by His grace alone.

Like what the verse says, heaven is not a reward for the good we have done. Our entry to Heaven is a gift by God. Because of His loving kindness, He will save us and allow us to enter his presence forever. Though this gift is free, we must receive it. It will never be ours unless we claim that gift.

What a relief to know that I don’t  have to do anything to merit heaven. Because my deeds and sacrifices are not enough to pay for my sins. I cannot earn my way to heaven. All I needed to do was to believe that Jesus’ death on the cross was for the payment of my sins. He died for me. But after three days, he rose again defeating death.  His resurrection proves that He is God and what He says in the Bible is true.

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it…Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.He was seen by Peter[c] and then by the Twelve. 1 Corinthians 15:1,3-5

I have accepted this truth years ago. I have accepted the gift that He freely gave me. He has become my Savior. Because of His finished work on the cross, I have been assured of my eternal destination. Because of Christ, small changes have been happening in my life ever since I have committed my life to Him.

Real transformation takes place moment by moment. I no longer wish to change for myself but I want to change because Christ’s love compels me. He so loved me that much that obeying Him and dying to self is but a tiny thing I can do for Him. I’m not claiming to be a goody-two shoes now. Something has changed and is still changing, I still make huge mistakes. I falter and fall. But it gets less and less because Christ’s Spirit reminds me not to.

His word (the Bible) is free for me to read, meditate and obey. Not only has Christ become my Savior but he has been my Lord too. As my Master, His Spirit now directs me, convicts me and gives me the strength to obey what He says. Obeying what the Bible says is not easy but as He promised us He will be our source of strength, when I am weak then I strong. 

Before meeting Christ, the change that I so wanted to do will never really amount to anything. Because my bases then were myself and my deeds. But now that I am anchored on Christ and His word which is “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Now that Holy Week is over and we are back to a state of normalcy, we should continue to live the way Christ wants us to live. Let us continue to look to him for the new life, a resurrected life. The old self dies and the new one lives.

Do you believe that Christ died not only to save you from your sins but also to give you this new life? Do you want to have that lasting and permanent change in your life? Do you believe that He is the only way to Heaven? If you do. I’d like to invite now, to open your heart to God and ask for forgiveness for all the things that you have done. Ask Him to be the center of life. If you don’t have any words for that, you can pray something like this:

Dear Jesus, I know that my life has not been that pleasing to you. I have been living my life the way I want it. I realized now that I am a sinner that I cannot merit heaven because of sins. Please forgive me. I ask that you cleanse me and that you become the center of my life now as I pray. I want to receive your free gift of salvation. I want you to change me to the person you want me to be. Please be my Lord and my Savior. I ask all of these, in your name, Amen. 


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