Easter 2006

Armstrong Williams

4/16/2006 3:05:00 PM - Armstrong Williams
Easter Sunday, the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead, takes on special meaning this year for Christians amid a world at war and a religion under siege. With daily destruction occurring around the world, the upcoming release of The Da Vinci Code movie, and the recent publications of Judas Iscariot’s writings, Christians around the world are desperately clinging to this year’s Resurrection Day celebration.

Everyday Christians turn on the television, open the paper, and scan the internet only to see an increasing amount of destruction and carnage occurring in the Middle East and around the world. Their prayers for world peace appear to be ignored as more and more civilians and soldiers are killed everyday on battlefields and in seemingly peaceful, diplomatic areas. The Iraq war has been reduced to a holy war with various Muslim sects fighting for power and control. Attacks in Palestine, Israel, and Afghanistan all have religions connotations and every murder, kidnapping, and demolition seems to have “religious” backing. With war raging, many Christians are at a loss to see God’s good at work in these regions, but I implore you to have faith that his will is being done. Take notice of the freeing of millions, the religious liberties granted, and upward march of democracy abroad, and be assured that your prayers are being answered.

The best selling book, The Da Vinci Code, hits the big screen on May 19, and its upcoming release (and undoubted blockbuster status) is causing Christian organizations around the world to take sides. Some groups, like Campus Crusade for Christ, are not encouraging Christians to read the book or see the movie, but rather engage in discussion about the facts of Jesus Christ and Christianity. Other institutions, such as Fuller Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical school in California, are hopeful Christians actively involve themselves in The Da Vinci Code hype. "It’s going to be water cooler conversation, so Christians need to take a deep breath, read the book and see the movie. Then we need to educate Christians about what all this means," said Richard J. Mouw, the President of Fuller. Regardless of their position regarding The Da Vinci Code, nearly all religious groups agree that the popularity of the book and movie can be used in positive ways. I too believe that Christians should use this blasphemous book and its movie release as an opportunity to help God’s kingdom grow and flourish.

Last week the National Geographic Society announced the surfacing of a 1,700-year-old Christian manuscript that includes the “Gospel of Judas.” This “new” gospel portrays Judas not as a traitor, but as a favored disciple and willing supporter of Jesus Christ. Jesus tells Judas in the document that, "you will be cursed by the other generations, and you will come to rule over them.” Scholars agree the document is genuine, and consider it to be the most significant ancient, nonbiblical text found in the past 60 years. However, the study and debate of its relevance and accuracy will rage for years to come. Regardless of this debate, Christians should stand strong about the truth of the Bible and continue to spread its good word.

With the war in Iraq raging, The Da Vinci Code gaining popularity, and Judas receiving new status, Christians are faced with difficult times as Easter approaches. This columnist has a simple response to it all: focus on Him. Jesus Christ died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could live freely for Him. He rose from the dead to - among other things - show his followers that he truly is the Son of God. As Christians, our job this weekend is to meditate on these facts. Although the world is at war, Christianity is under siege, and sin is running rampant in this country, our focus this weekend should be on Jesus’ death and resurrection. Nothing else.

After a weekend of focus on Jesus Christ, we can wake up Monday ready and refreshed to tackle the issues of today. We can step up our prayers and protests of senseless deaths, take a non-believer to The Da Vinci Code movie and explain its myths, and read the “Gospel of Judas” and understand its fallacies. God gave us a head and heart to study, debate, and formulate opinions about worldly issues. He commanded us to shine our light on the world, to pray for friends and foes alike, and to live our best everyday. Resurrection weekend is a time to rekindle our relationship with the Lord. The rest of our days are a time to use the strength of that partnership to make our world a better place.