I’ve decided I like the term Post-Christian instead of Ex-Christian. “Ex” implies some type of break up with perhaps some lingering animosity or denial of the former path. Like I said before I feel that my devout study of christianity led me here. I think the bible is a wellspring of information and while I might not believe Jesus is the son of God I do think he was a wise man and path pointer.
Christmas this past year was a weird time of wistful melancholy as I mourned the loss of my belief. For example, the first time I heard Do You Hear What I Hear, one of my favorites, I broke down crying. I think toward the end of December I was able to hear the song and believe the beautiful things about it.
So, this Easter I’d like to share some of the great lessons that we, as non-Christians – whether post or ex or never – can learn from Easter.
One of the best things about the Easter story (which btw is Jesus’ execution at the hands of the Romans and the Sanhedrin (Jewish leaders) on what we call Good Friday and his subsequent rebirth from the dead three days later on Easter) is the concept of Grace.
Christians believe that Grace saves us. Grace can mean a number of things but in this instance it is defined as, “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”
The key word here is unmerited. There is nothing a Christian can ever do to deserve the salvation of Jesus. You can’t give-to-charity your way out, help-your-neighbor yourself to the top, or pray your way to heaven. The Christian view is that we could NEVER achieve the holiness of God. Our only hope is in the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. All the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were nulled with the death of God’s son, Jesus.
I no longer believe all of that but I think grace – undeserved assistance – is a valuable concept we could employ in our lives.
I went to a marriage retreat last weekend and they talked about how our society says marriages are performance based. You receive love when your behavior matches the other person’s needs. You already know how I feel about this type of conditional parenting.
What if we used more grace in our relationships? You know gave love, help, courtesy, whatever even when it is undeserved. What if how we related to others was not based on merit or conditional upon their behavior at all?
Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God but also that he was God. I always explained it to people like the triple point of water – that temperature at which water exists as a solid, liquid and gas simultaneously.
So, when the man Jesus hung on the cross he was in fact the all-powerful God of the Old Testament that stopped the sun, flooded the Earth, and rose a man from the dead. I’m sure he could have managed getting off the cross and destroying his enemies.
However, he chose to accept his role with humility.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t take pride in our accomplishments but a balance with humility for your gifts is in order.
Jesus said of his crucifiers “Forgive them, they know not what they do.”
A close sister to grace, forgiveness is often held close to our chests until someone deserves it. What if we forgave more easily to the people in our life?
At Easter services Christians are often allowed to take their worries “to the cross” which means to literally write down you misdeeds or worries and pin them to a big wooden cross. This symbolizes giving over your cares and sins to Jesus.
I think this relates to self-forgiveness. We are often much meaner to ourselves that others. Maybe this Easter we could write down our worries or self-doubts and give them up to the cosmos and not let them sap the energy of our days any longer.
For Christians, the celebration of Easter is not the crucifixion (Good Friday) but the day Jesus overcame death and arose from the grave.
This is a recurrent theme throughout mythology. There are many Jesus analogs throughout the ages such as Mithras and Osiris. There are also myths like the Egyptian Benu bird, the Asian Fenghuang, or as it is best known in the Greek; the Phoenix.
All feature the same theme. From complete and utter defeat when your enemies are celebrating their victory, you are reborn overcoming even death to start anew.
It is a beautiful belief and one of the reasons my tattoo design for my children (living and lost) is a phoenix. I feel like motherhood after infertility was like rising from the ashes of defeat.
What a powerful concept that not only can we rise from our defeat but defeat is necessary for that rebirth. What if when we struggle or have dark times we kept this in mind?
Respecting Diversity Means Respecting Religions
I think that we all can truly come together and learn and respect each others’ religions or beliefs. Mocking someone’s beliefs (like calling Easter “zombie Jesus” day) is hateful and drives people apart. There is no reason that you can’t learn from something you don’t believe in.
I mean do we really think a tortoise and a hare once raced? Or do we know that ancient writings can have pearls of wisdom for us? Or that respecting diversity (in this case religion) makes the world a better place?