Here’s what Easter means to me: It’s an annual reminder of how I am to live every day.
Let me get this out of the way: Although I am a certified Christian minister, I don’t practice “Christianity.” I don’t go to church, except for celebratory occasions, but I live the Christ. When going to church stopped serving me, I stopped going. I experience more power in my personal life now than I ever did when rushing to the building and ticking off the typical Christian checklists.
For too many “devout Christians,” living in the ashes of defeat (deflated, in despair or with hope perpetually deferred) is a normal state of being. For them, going to church every Sunday (for some Wednesday and Friday, too) is a wailing practice — while waiting to be delivered, chosen, upgraded or vindicated, or begging for the strength to climb the “rough side of the mountain” out of their steadily compounding situations.
Oh; you think I mean broke and busted Christians? Hell, no! I mean those with long money, driving luxury cars and living the suburban life, who may be “successes” (including professionally) according to society’s standards, but their personal lives are a hot mess. They look blessed though! And it rarely dawns on the financially astute or the professionally savvy that their personal problems persist because of what they’re doing or failing to do. No; instead it’s ’cause, “the devil stays busy.”
Professional Success, But Personal Life’s A Hot Mess?
To you, I say, enough already! Stop faking the funk, because your proverbial slip is showing. Yes, your personal problems are as pervasive and real as everybody else’s, and as much as you’ve tried to distract attention from them with your blessedness and bling and keep it all hidden, others see it. It’s like the “Real Wives” of whatever city looking fabulous in their expensive stuff, but they’re emotional messes (and their spouses and relationships are equally so)!
You believed that if you got the professional part right, then the personal stuff was God’s business; that as long as you checked the “holy” boxes , God would work everything else out, from your health and happiness to your relationships with your spouse and children.
How’s that working out for you?
This is not to blame you, it’s to shake you! After all, you thought that because it’s what you’ve been taught by people whose personal lives were as jacked up as yours. They didn’t have any better tools to give you, so they perpetuate what I call Checklist Christianity. I’m not making a judgement about deliberate deception, nor gullibility. Right now, that’s all irrelevant. What I am saying is that if you don’t start to view your personal life as your responsibility, too, and recognize that God will help you in the same way as with your professional life, you’ll continue to suffer. And this I know: that’s not God.
As a professional you learned your industry, kept up with trends, and may even have earned advanced degrees so that you’re better equipped and prepared to climb the professional ladder, and intent on securing your financial future. If you’ll address your personal life with that kind of planning, intention, diligence and execution you can have the same kind of success in your personal life and relationships — whole-life success, the way it’s intended.
Instead, you’ve expected your “Christianity” to serve as a substitute. As a “good Christian,” you’ve checked all the boxes on the checklist. You give your tithes and offerings, and live according to the dos and don’ts of the Bible (well except that one thing…okay 2 or 3 things, but hey we all sin and fall short, right?). You live a “righteous” life, yet your spouse still lies and/or cheats (or you can’t seem to attract one), your children go through their own “unbecoming of the Christian way” evolutions (growing pains and troubles), and you’ve developed unhealthy (or “unholy”) habits to cope.
You can’t even share with other “Christians,” because what would they think about you, or your “real” connection to God since your prayers seem not to be working? Or worse, you’ve already been judged and forsaken by them — even though they’re likely living the same reality as you, and you’re all lying.
LISTEN TO ME: You were built for better than that! You weren’t built for suffering, but for rising above all! You can have the same consistent success in your personal life as you’ve experienced in your professional life, but you have to learn to read life’s sign posts.
“Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” could include scripture when challenges come, but on the job, you have to learn something other than scripture to apply to them; the same is true for your personal life!
You can find strength in scriptures while you learn new things and develop new tools (the renewing of your mind) that effectively correspond to the challenges you face, but depending on scriptures alone will leave you emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. The transformation doesn’t happen through scripture. It happens through the actually doing — newness of mind — what you’ve learned that affords you the power to do what you couldn’t before.
So stop waiting on God in your personal life. Learn more, apply what you learn and you’ll be equipped to soar on wings like eagles.
Scriptures can serve as a source of strength for you, but YOU have to solve your own personal problems. When personal problems persist it’s because you have personal growth gaps. The question is, are you tired of playing church and ready to live The Christ: to change, embrace transitions and truly transform?
Live “The Christ”
Stop asking for what you already have and learn how to use it! The power is not out there somewhere. You’ve got the power. You’ve been endued with it. ACTIVATE IT!
RISING means that you intentionally CourageUP™ to overcome challenging situations. In order to live a life of rising you have to remain a forever student of life, not just of your profession. That’s why you’re here: to proactively and intentionally learn more about whatever life presents to you, and grow with it.
You have to become as diligent about your personal growth as you’ve been about your professional development. There’s nothing wrong with going to church if it serves you, but your church attendance and checklists do not replace your responsibility to do your part in the collaborative equation of you and your God. You are an individual with a unique collective spark of God within you — your individuality! You’re on an individual path for your specific/individual purpose. You must honor the God in you by intentionally honoring and developing your individuality. The herd mentality often hinders this vital connection. The herd needs to call themselves Jesusians (those who follow Jesus), because they are not representative of the (rising) Christ.
You’re here (on Earth) for two reasons: to learn and to grow. You’ve done that professionally. If you’re not learning more and growing in your personal life you won’t rise. PERIOD.
God’s part is already done. You’re already equipped. Here’s your part – ACTIVATE YOUR INDIVIDUAL POWER AND RISE!
THAT’S the symbolic and actual meaning of the Resurrection. It’s not about dressing up in your spring-colored finest and going to a place. FINE, if it’s what you do, but your life should reflect Christ, and that’s about more than just the ineffective and repetitious quoting of scriptures in the face of persistent personal problems (and people). The Christ Is Risen. Rise.
To me, Easter Sunday is to celebrate all the ways I’ve risen because of the Christ in me; the power to learn more and apply better to my situations; to rise above every challenge.
If you’re truly the head and not the tail over circumstances, your whole life will reflect it. It will be obvious that you’re wiser about the circumstances you’ve faced because you’ve overcome them, and made your challenges your footstool. It is only then that peace will abound in your life.
People are never your enemy, and neither are challenges, so stop blaming the devil for the stuff you don’t like in your life. People teach you more about YOU when you’re a willing student of life, and every challenge comes to sharpen your resolve. Don’t frown upon either because people and challenges are purposeful; embrace both with the (loving) power within and you’ll rise, EVERY TIME!
Listen: the Bible is a good book, but it’s not the only one. If you want to stop reeking of the ashes of defeat and learn what it’s like to emerge from them like the Phoenix (The Christ) rising, start reading books about your challenges and getting help beyond the pulpit!
In fact, here’s a bonus for you, it’s a Lunch and Learn lesson I taught called Learning To Read Life’s Sign Posts: Changes, Transitions and Transformation.