Today I am participating in the ChristianWriters.com blog chain for April. Since Easter falls in this month we are looking at the topics of Easter and resurrection. Interestingly, today is my birthday. Where did all the time go I wonder? Yesterday I was 18. Today I am 33. I am quite used to celebrating my birthday in conjunction with Easter, given its closeness. I have distant memories of one year, when I was very young, my mother made an Easter Bunny birthday cake for me.
Today might be a reminder that I am now well into my thirties and am expected to “be an adult”, but I have another birthday: one that does not fall on the fourth of April. To be honest I don’t know the day, but it happened when I was approximately nine years old. I was in grade three, which was my first year at the Launceston Christian School. Our teacher had described to us in simple terms, what Jesus did on the cross and why. That night, in my bed, I made my first personal commitment to live in a relationship with Jesus. That night I was “born again.”
This was only the very beginning of a journey for me. While I believe that my sins were forgiven that night, I had only a childlike understanding of the gospel. I had a long way to go. Through my late childhood and into my teens I was really quite hypocritical. I became more self-righteous than I knew. My faith was not so much in God’s mercy and grace, but in the fact that I was a “good little Christian”. I was the kid who always prided himself in obeying the rules and doing the right thing. I got devastatingly upset if I was reprimanded for something at school. I had an outward appearance of righteousness but a very dirty heart inside, which was apparent to those closest to me.
It was during my university years that God really worked in my heart and helped me understand my true condition, and his gift for me. Being a ‘good person’ would get me nowhere. No matter how ‘good’ I thought I was, it was like dirty rags to God. I could not measure up to his standard. I was no better than anyone else. Many people find it difficult to admit they are wrong – and this was a particular problem for me. I had to humble myself and come to terms with my need for forgiveness and hope. After that I was able to truly appreciate and accept what God had done for me. He died two thousand years ago in my place. It should have been me hanging and dying on that cross – I deserved it – He didn’t. He died in my place so that my sins could be forgiven (God could not overlook them), and then he was resurrected back to life to defeat the power of death and sin.
The term ‘born again’ was first spoken by Jesus when questioned by a bloke named Nicodemus. Jesus told him that in order to be saved he must be born again. When Nicodemus didn’t understand what this meant, Jesus went on to explain that he would be “lifted up” so that everyone who believes in him can have eternal life. It is during this conversation that Jesus utters what may be his most quoted words:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
– John 3:16
Now THAT is a birthday worth celebrating! Happy Easter.
Follow the Chain
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.