“Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ ” —Luke 23:42-43
This is my favourite Easter verse. Why? Well, I’m a straight shooter. If you have a point to be made or a story to tell me, you better give me the Coles Notes version because my brain and body can’t take the long rabbit trail version.
Enter Asher, my middle child, who can tell a story better than most writers I know. The lengths he will go to convince me of something—that Darth Vader was at his school that day—amazes me every time I listen for what feels like hours and hours. He makes his story so complex. He makes my life more complex.
But when you look past the stories and the messy hair, you won’t find complexity. You’ll find something quite simple—a little boy who needs some love.
We do this with the gospel, too, don’t we? We read the Scriptures and rack our brains for what it “actually” means. We have convinced ourselves that it can’t be simply what is written and there must be eight million different interpretations. It has become so complex that many people barely even open their Bibles anymore, relying on social media posts, their church leaders or the newest and greatest trend to understand how to live like Jesus.
Friends, let me share a little secret with you. Lean in close because this is a big one.
Following the gospel is quite simple.
It’s not a beautifully laid out road map or a fancy checklist, but we have overcomplicated Jesus and undervalued the simplicity of his instructions and his gift of salvation. Somewhere along the way, we made things more complex than they need to be and, like my Asher, have created big, drawn-out stories that ultimately just add more confusion.
Like everything else in our lives, we are passing on this confusion to the next generation.
Well, I’m on a mission. I want to teach my kids that accepting Jesus is as simple as the scene of the criminal on the cross from my favourite Easter verse: calling out, asking for his help and accepting his gift. It’s not complicated. It’s not a long Asher story. It’s beautiful, it’s simple and it’s ours.
We can show our kids that reaching out to Jesus and following him adds so much love and joy to our lives by accepting that truth and living it ourselves. Here are a few examples of the Bible’s simple instructions that we can share with our families:
Devote yourselves to prayer (see Colossians 4:2). Every morning as a family, throughout the day at school or work, at night before bed. Let prayer be the foundation of your day.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly (see Colossians 3:16). Read the Scriptures together every day. Memorize a verse together every week. Write those verses on your hearts, your hands, your walls.
Worship with fasting and praying night and day (see Luke 2:37). Blare that worship music together, dance it out, show your family how fun it is to praise God. Give up social media or screens together once a week to learn what fasting can do to bring you closer to God.
Submit yourselves to God (see James 4:7). Love one another, love your neighbour, lay down your “swords” in disagreements and show mutual submission and respect.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other (see James 5:16). Talk to your older kids and teens about your slip-ups. Confess and ask for forgiveness when you lose your cool or fight with your spouse.
I am thankful that Asher doesn’t need a PhD to receive Jesus. I am humbled that I get to show him just how simple it is to follow the Bible. I am grateful that, like the criminal on the cross, Jesus hears our cries and welcomes us into his kingdom. How are you sharing that simple message this Easter?
Captain Bhreagh Rowe is the community ministries officer, St. Albert Church and Community Centre, Alta.
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