My wife and I had quite the spiritual day on Easter. It started with a worship service at our church, with a powerful, Christ-centered message. We followed that with lunch at a local park with one of our daughters and her family. Next we went to see the film, “I Can Only Imagine,” and finished off the day by watching the TV presentation of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
The sermon addressed the “doubting Thomas” in all of us, exploring the primary causes of doubts about God – disappointments in life we tend to blame on Him; struggling with the seeming (but not actual) conflict between faith and reason; and our bent toward sinfulness, wanting to live our own way and deciding if we deny or ignore God’s existence, then it’s okay to do so.
It also considered the antidote for doubts, including evidence of Christ’s resurrection; willingness to believe (disbelief is more of a heart problem than a head problem); and ultimately, a genuine, personal encounter with Jesus.
Even though I can still recall the days of my own disbelief and agnosticism, when I essentially acted as if I were my own god, now that I’ve known the Lord and experienced His work in my life for several decades, it’s increasingly hard to understand how anyone can live without Him.
Spending time with our children and grandchildren is a joy and privilege I admittedly take for granted too often. When I hear people beaming about becoming grandparents for the first time, my tendency is to think, “You think that’s something? We’ve got 12 of them, ranging from infancy to their 20’s. Not only that, but we have three great-grandkids, too. Top that!” I don’t say it aloud, but it’s crossed my mind a time or two.
The park outing was fun, and I was proud to pray for two of our granddaughters who were leaving for a mission trip the next morning. From experience, I knew that while God might use them to touch someone’s life, often the ones that benefit most are those taking the trip. Being exposed to how other people live, especially in other cultures and socio-economic environments, and seeing the Lord can work there, too, can be life-changing.
The film was based on the life of Bart Millard, lead singer and songwriter of the Christian musical group, MercyMe, and their hit song, “I Can Only Imagine.” Reception to the song, which ponders what it would be like to stand before God in Heaven, was phenomenal as it earned triple-platinum status in 2003. It continues to be a favorite for many today.
Millard drew inspiration for the song from the death of his father, who’d abused him severely as a child but became transformed, a totally new man, after committing his life to Jesus Christ before dying of pancreatic cancer. The film is a moving story of redemption, just the right type of movie to see on the day we celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to redeem all who come to Him by faith.
As Isaiah 1:18 tells us, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Or to use a different metaphor, God excels at turning sows’ ears into silk purses.
Watching the NBC production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” took me back to my early adult years when it became both a popular film and best-selling album. At the time I was a “church-ian” – I believed in God and attended church sometimes, but I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. I knew little about the Bible, so the liberties the songs take with the Scriptures were lost on me then. For instance, both Judas and Pontius Pilate come across as sympathetic characters for the most part, almost like victims of their circumstances rather than key players in the crucifixion story. That’s not how the Bible presents them.
And in portraying the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the redeemed prostitute, there’s an inference some hanky-panky might have been going on. Again, totally contrary to what the Scriptures teach: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest…Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
But the performances by the singers, including John Legend, Sara Bareilles and, of all people, rocker Alice Cooper (who professes to be a devoted follower of Christ), were excellent. When I first saw the musical in the early ‘70s, theology wasn’t an issue for me. It did, however, have a positive impact, one that I suspect contributed to my later desire to read and study the Bible, and discover who this guy Jesus really was, and what He was all about.
My hope is that for some who viewed the TV rendition, it has the same effect on them.
All in all, it was quite a Resurrection Sunday. A welcome reminder for me, and perhaps for many others, that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Not just Easter, but every day.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com
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