Ears on the Wall Syndrome: Easter - still stumbling a few blocks...

2 April 2013

I had a very busy, and yet, fulfilling Easter. Our church was full of people joyfully celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday, as they reflect on the significance of Easter.

Dr Featuna'i Liua'ana and author of Ears on the Wall syndrome

Dr Featuna’i Liua’ana

For the first time, Easter eggs, and chocolate bunnies, were hardly seen, and our children seemed less concerned about the commercial aspects of Easter as they showed one another love and fellowship; and families found time to share something much bigger than an Easter egg or a chocolate bunny – salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But, then my joy just turned sour and I wished I had an Easter egg on hand to sweeten my taste bud; and I cursed myself for going online to read some good Easter weekend journalism.

I could not help but noticed how many journalists and bloggers took the opportunity to slam dunk Easter; well to be honest they pretty much used Easter as a stepping stone to attack Christianity not only as an institution but also its system of beliefs. And gauging by the response of many people to such writing; there are people out there with so much hatred towards Christians and Christianity.

But, at the same token, it exposes the worse kind of anger among Christians themselves in countering any negative remarks against Christianity. But, the largest group of responses to the Easter writings came from both sides of the scale; people who were not Christians and Christian alike who were  just sick of the continuous badgering and ridiculing of Christianity and the Christian faith without a shred of evidence to justify their attacks other than just pure hatred. Yet what puzzles me about the people who ridicule and attack Christians and their faith, is how they go hard out to buy Easter eggs and Christmas presents for their kids, families, and friends, and all in the spirit of celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection, and his birth respectively.

Hypocrites I say, hypocrites indeed!

Even if these people do not have in mind Jesus Christ when they buy and give Easter eggs and Christmas presents, they are, nevertheless, still celebrating and honouring Christian holidays.  I, for one, respect people’s opinions on any subject matter, even if it goes against my own personal take on things. I admire people who express their opinions with respect, especially when it comes to a sensitive subject like Christianity and its beliefs. I follow with much respect the opinions of many writers and journalists, but two recent articles has changed my mind about the ability of some writers to respect others’ opinions, especially when it comes to religion and Christianity.

Rodney Hide’s piece called, A mysterious way to show love was nothing short of an attack on the Christian faith, and its doctrine of ‘vicarious suffering’ and the idea of ‘unconditional love’ shown by God through his son Jesus Christ. It’s a pity Rodney Hide stopped going to Sunday school at an early age, I know if he had just stayed on until he reach maturity, he would have had a different Easter song to sing today.

Understandably, Rodney Hide was reflecting from his own unique and, yet, limited experience of Christianity. Much more disturbing for me, was Matt McCarten’s article, Gay couples have rights too, which he calls upon Christians who were against the same-sex marriage bill to change sides. In his own words, “This Easter say a quiet prayer, accept his forgiveness and do the right thing – change sides.” Bravo! Seems a reasonable innuendo born out of free-speech journalism, I say!

But, put it side by side with another of his remarks in the same article, in which he asks, “Why do religious people feel they have the right to tell other people how to live their lives?” I suppose, it means Mr Matt McCarten is not religious, and therefore, he has the right to tell other people, religious or otherwise, how to live their lives.

And then Matt McCarten has the nerve for someone who champions ‘rights’ and ‘not to tell others what to do’ to go on to say, “Jesus was liberal and spent his life fighting against injustice, If you’re a Christian who opposes marriage rights for every couple in love, you’ll know Jesus died for your sin.”

It seems Matt McCarten spent a bit more time in Sunday school than Rodney Hide, but still not enough. Because, I know my ‘block’ is not faltering, and I would be right – oh, there is that word again ‘right’ – to say that Matt McCarten seems to be telling Christians, how to be Christians, when to be Christians, and to change their views on same-sex marriage. And to also tell Christians they are sinners for speaking out against something they truly believe is wrong, suggest we have a non-sinner among us (two large Easter eggs if you guess who).

Maybe Matt McCarten just don’t see things clearly during Easter; he probably has a big chocolate log in his eye. Hypocrite, I say, hypocrite indeed!

Both Rodney Hide and Matt McCarten, remind me of the very proud Corinthians who tried to ridicule and demean the teachings of Christianity regarding Jesus death on the cross and his resurrection with the philosophy of Plato, Socrates, Stoic, Aristotle, and others.

The Corinthians said it was a complete absurdity for anyone to rejoice suffering on the cross, and as for the resurrection – it was ludicrous. But, the Apostle Paul answered his critics simply by saying, “The message of the cross is complete absurdity to those who are headed for ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation it is the power of God.”

Christians admit that the cross and resurrection is a stumbling block to many. As the Apostle Paul said, Christians “preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews and an absurdity to Gentile” (1 Cor.1: 18 – 18; 23).  The significance of Easter can only be understood by those who have experienced salvation. So, every time I hear, or read, or watch on television unbelievers who mock and rip Christianity and its beliefs apart, I know their ‘block’ is stumbling to ‘understand’, their soul is faltering in absurdity, and their heart is hesitant to believe.

Rodney Hide and Matt McCarten, both need to stop trying to understand Christianity and its doctrines, because they don’t have the ‘block’ to do so.

But, take a leaf out of the lives of two men of faith, who were at one time in their lives, also saw Christianity as an absurdity and a stump to their ‘blocks.’ But, when these men finally found salvation, they became in the history of Christianity two of its greatest apologetics.

The word ‘apologetics’, of course, comes from the Greek word apologia meaning ‘speaking in defence.’ In 1 Peter 3:15, he writes, “Always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”

The first of these men, was Tertullian, whose journey to faith began with an irrational, and yet, profound statement, “I believe what is absurd.” According to Tertullian, we need to escape from worldly wisdom because it has failed to apply Scriptures to life.

And then, the most philosophical of all sources of faith journey was Augustine of Hippo’s statement, “I believe, therefore I understand.” According to Augustine of Hippo, when you believe, everything else falls in place.

Many people who criticise and ridicule Christianity and its faith today, needs to believe in the absurd and not in the wisdom of the world; they also need to empty themselves of all their worldly assumptions, and just believe. Otherwise, we need to either put up with Christianity, take up Christianity, or just shut up about Christianity.

It’s always good to talk and write about something you believe in, even if you don’t understand it, at least it is guided by passion and not aeration of indifference. And as for my man Matt McCarten, who does not want religious people to tell other people what to do, well…I am not going to tell you what to do or where to go, you will eventually figure that out yourself, once you stop trying to understand the reason why religious people are opposing the same-sex marriage bill.

It has nothing to do with people denying the rights of individual, but it has a lot to do with individuals denying the right of the people.

Apart from those hiccups which disturbed the force surrounding Easter, everything fell into place with a prayer. And much more to be thankful for, was the realisation that our people have slowly departed from the commercialism of Easter and appreciated Easter for what it is – a celebration of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The actions of our parishioners in foregoing Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies may have dented the profit margins of the entrepreneurs of Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies, but it saved a dollar or two to buy bread, milk and honey for a family Easter fiesta.

And with a belated Easter greeting, have your ears on the wall, and continue to seek the peace and prosperity of this country to which God has given us to dwell. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper…





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