Easter in America
Were you to walk the streets of many American cities, you would never know that this Sunday is Resurrection Day, more often called "Easter." The most important event in human history, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, is celebrated with great reverence and fanfare by Christians around the world, but on American streets that reality is hard to find. A couple of years ago, Jesse Waters did a "man on the street" Easter quiz in NYC. Some did not even know there was such an event as the resurrection of Christ, let alone a holiday to commemorate it. One woman said Jesus was probably Muslim but that she wasn't sure because she "didn't know him." Another said that Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus' second resurrection. Still a third, when asked what Good Friday means to her said, "Nothing. I don't shop."
Secular America is Resurrection ignorant because all vestiges of the founding principles and the Judeo-Christian ethic have been removed from schools and from the culture. Entire generations only know the name “Jesus Christ” to use it to swear. Secularists are loathe to recognize Christianity and Judaism as legitimate religions and are more likely to recognize holidays such as Ramadan and Kwanzaa. This attitude is promoted country-wide by secularists and people of other faiths.
Mainline churches in America are closing or fragmenting. People who identify as having no religion at all (“nones”) are on the increase, which is why American streets are filled with Resurrection ignorance. But there is good news for Christians: Non-denominational churches are on the upswing. Churches in Africa, China, and elsewhere are thriving and growing. It seems many Christians are hungry for a more biblical, less woke Christianity. This is a good sign. It reveals a hunger for guard rails, for rules, for some structure in life, for hope, for a place to put their sins. Perhaps people are getting tired of getting their way and doing as they please. Perhaps they want something to worship other than themselves.
The bodily resurrection of Christ is at the core of Christianity. Without it, Christianity is dead. St. Paul told Christians that if Jesus did not rise bodily, "….your faith is in vain." With that in mind, it is interesting to note that atheists are still doing their best to attack the Resurrection. They believe that if they can only find Jesus’ nail-scarred skeleton, they may rid the world of this pesky religion for good. They are whistling in the wind.
People have been trying to kill Jesus and His followers for millennia, but the drop in church attendance is not the death knell atheists hope it is. It was foretold in the Bible in the Gospel of Matthew: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is narrow and the way is constricted that leads to life, and there are few who find it."
The cultural gate through which the "nones" are flowing is very wide. Millions are rushing through it. The gate through which Christians are going is very narrow. Few will enter. The biblical narrowing of the gate is aligned perfectly with what is supposed to happen -- the reduced presence of the Christian church. When it is all over, the number of wide-gate people will be staggering, the number of narrow-gate people will be small. Resurrection is for the few, not the many. Atheists should take no comfort in the decline of the church in America. The reverse should be the case; they should be nervous.
This Resurrection Day, Easter Sunday, is a day of choices for Americans. In America, wide-gate secularism seems to reign supreme right now but that is an illusion. Christians here in America celebrate Resurrection Day with the assurance of what is to come. Americans have a choice and our prayers are that they will choose the narrow gate.