We sang Matt Maher’s Christ Is Risen this morning in worship and these lyrics arrested my attention…
“Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
We fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love”
Traditionally, Easter was a great day of celebration for me, but it also provided a lot of inspiration that fueled my bootstraps theology and fed my orphan thinking. “In light of the brutal death that Jesus endured,” I reasoned, “how then can I go on sinning?” And so I would leave with new motivation to work harder in order to please God with my good choices and good behavior.
But it was “the lie of inward shame” that kept me trapped in my addictive cycle. This lie led me to these 4 core beliefs:
1. I was a bad and unworthy person.
2. No one could love me as I was.
3. No one could meet my needs but me.
4. Sex equaled love and therefore sex was my most important need.
But as the above lyrics point out, our hope for the freedom we long for does not come from following a formula or by working harder, but by “running to Him who showed great love.” And that was my dilemma for so many years. I didn’t feel safe to run to Him because my inward shame told me that He was angry and disappointed because of my sin. I only felt like I could run to Jesus when I had had some victory and those moments were pretty rare. And during those periods where I did not have victory, I stayed isolated and alone and the problem only grew worse.
God’s wrath was poured out once and for all on Christ at the cross. If we are in Him, it is not true that He has more wrath to pour out for our recent failures and shortcomings. Fixing our eyes on the cross and being reminded of His sacrifice on our behalf and His great love for us begins to dissipate the shame that holds us captive.
But the Good News of the Gospel doesn’t end there! After taking all of God’s wrath on the cross for sins past, present, and future, Jesus defeated death and arose on that first Easter! There is so much theology wrapped up in the refrain of this song…
“Trampling over death by death”
This was God’s plan “A” from the beginning of time. God, when cursing the serpent in Genesis 3 refers to the “seed of woman” that will crush Satan’s head. There has only been one who has ever lived that came from the “seed of woman”, and that is Jesus. Jesus, the perfect Passover lamb, defeated death by dying.
And the same power that raised Him from the dead is available to us every day of our lives! THAT is the power that we reference in Step 2 in our recovery groups each week. God has dealt with sin and death and provided a Savior. Our role is to daily admit that we need a Savior and surrender to His resurrection power in our lives.
Has the Easter message ever led you to more striving instead of more freedom? Why or why not?