April 2009 


 

Are you a Saturday Christian or a Sunday Christian?   

 

I’m not speaking of your denominational affiliation or leaning, such as when you celebrate the Lord’s Day.  I’m talking about what kind of Christian you are.  Let me explain. 

 

This month we celebrate Easter.  Hallelujah!  Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, forever canceling out our debt, restoring our relationship with God, and evidencing the truth of his promise to give us everlasting life.  Yea, God! 

 

But Easter didn’t happen without a Good Friday.   (Sidebar:  I’ve always thought Good Friday was an odd name for a day when such a horrific death took place, but I get the idea of it being good since Jesus paid the penalty of my sin.  But if that’s the reason, then shouldn’t it be called Great Friday or Amazing Friday, or the Best Friday Ever??  Just a random thought, no extra charge.)  Think of the disciples.  On Good Friday, the man they had followed for three years, the one they had given up their lives and livelihoods to emulate was killed.  Dead.  End of a dream.  End of an era.  Now what?  Where do we go from here?  It must have been perplexing, confusing, and scary beyond words to contemplate their futures without Jesus.  Plus, as Jesus’ devotees, they were in danger of losing their lives too, given the Roman and Jewish appetite for Christian blood at the time.  Hey, if the head of the movement was killed so violently, was there any hope for his followers?  So they hid themselves in a locked room away from everyone. 

 

The disciples really exhibited some disappointing behavior throughout the whole trial, death, and even resurrection and appearances of Jesus.  None of them stayed by him during the crucifixion.   Matthew 26:56 reports that “…all of the disciples deserted him and fled.”  Peter (“the rock”) denied him.  And Luke 24:11 records that when the women returned from seeing Jesus alive again at the tomb, “the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it.”  In their locked room, hope and faith had dried up like the red streaks of dried blood on a wooden cross.   

 

In contrast, Jesus’ female followers were present at the crucifixion. The women handled the preparation of burial spices and were first at the tomb to see that he had risen from the dead.  So faithful were the women that Jesus rewarded them as the first preachers of the good news of his resurrection!  It was highly uncommon for women to be trusted as witnesses (thus the need for multiple women seeing that Jesus had arose) and to be given the amazing gift of being the first witnesses and preachers speaks volumes of Jesus’ view of the equality and worth of females. 

 

But I can’t fault the disciples too much, having found myself to be utterly lacking plenty of times.  I can understand how Saturday must have been one of the darkest days they ever lived.  They knew nothing of Easter Sunday, only the terror and sadness of Friday, the desperation and nagging doubts of Saturday, and the presumably vacant emptiness of all the days ahead.   

They didn’t know it at the time, but Saturday was a once-in-a-lifetime gift from God, a chance to prove they really were disciples.  Ask anyone who has lived a long time as a follower of Jesus and they will no doubt tell you how God tests our faith and teaches us to wait on him.  God uses the Saturdays of uncertainty to see whether we will believe his promises to love and care for us, whether we will cling to him and no other gods for help, and to see whether we will deny our faith or grow it stronger in the struggle. 

 

On Easter Sunday it’s easy to be a faithful believer.  The evidence is all there; Jesus has risen, he is appearing to many, pointing out his scars, and everyone is seeing him face-to-face.  Of course it’s easy to be a Sunday Christian.  But it’s darn hard to be a Saturday Christian, one that remains unmoved and steadfast in faith despite the odds. 

 

If you think about it, there are really only a number of times in life when we must prove our faith in such adversity.  That’s because God is so naturally good to us on a daily basis, like giving us air to breathe, food, shelter, clothing, grace, fun, friends, himself – the list goes on and on — that our faith isn’t really being challenged.  It’s easy to confess Jesus as Lord and praise God when we’re being blessed, things are going our way, and the world is moving according to our watch.  But consider Job’s difficulties, or the Apostle Paul’s traumas, or … the disciples on the Saturday before Easter Sunday Morning.   

 

Because these extreme testing times are rare, we should look at these challenges of faith as treasured opportunities to show God our love and steadfastness.  Instead of just moping and whining (which, I admit, I am quite proficient at), we can use these occasions to exercise our spiritual muscles and live out what we say we believe.  What a beautiful gift we can offer God – to truly show him passionate love, undying faith, and a solid heart of trust while enduring the seemingly impossible.  Of course it won’t be easy, but that’s why the test is so special.  We have the unique and exciting chance to prove that we are disciples when everything around us says we’re idiots for being one. 

 

You might be in the middle of such a challenge right now.  Please know that I am not minimizing the magnitude of your situation or discounting your suffering.  I’ve been in similar places, and I know the pain, the questions, the confusion, and the waiting can be excruciating.  But having lived through those tests, I also know the preciousness of being able to really prove to God, in the center of that horrible struggle, that he means more to me than anything and I will be faithful to him no matter what. 

 

Saturday was their perfect place for the disciples’ faith to shine, and it still is ours today when we face Saturdays of uncertainty.   So the question is, are you a Saturday Christian or a Sunday one? 

 

 

Love, 

Lisa

 

P.S.  Have a Blessed Easter!