Dear Friends,

I wanted to write something fun about Easter but instead I have been thinking about the importance of redemption.  It seems like you cannot even look at the news without seeing some official, celebrity or sports star involved in some public scandal.  The world watches as the media follows them relentlessly for days, weeks, or even months.  Once the attention evaporates, what’s left behind is usually a scene of complete and utter self-inflicted personal destruction.  Often, that’s where the story ends.  Many just fade away, living out their ruined lives in bitterness and brokenness, but not always.  Sometimes hitting bottom opens people up to healing and to saving grace.

No one likes to remember their past mistakes, but when they are viewed in the context of sins atoned for by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, they become only a chapter of a longer story of victory and healing, not the last chapter. In most cases, the final story is much more important than the earlier scandal.

You may remember the story of the late Chuck Colson.  Colson was known as President Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man” and the mastermind of Nixon’s “dirty tricks.”  Colson was eventually identified as one of the “Watergate 7” of the infamous Watergate Scandal that led to the impeachment and resignation of President Nixon in 1974.  That same year, Colson pled guilty to obstruction of justice and served 7 months in federal prison.  Colson lost his license to practice law, his career, his reputation and his freedom.  That could have been the end of his story but Colson’s disgrace led him to the foot of the Cross, and from there he has become one of the greatest Christian heroes of our time.

Facing arrest and the downfall of the Nixon administration, a close friend who was a Christian, gave Colson a copy of C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity.  After reading it, he became a Christian and joined a prayer group with other believing government figures where he became convicted to tell the truth leading to his imprisonment.  After his release from prison, Colson founded Prison Fellowship in 1976, which today is the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families.  He went on to become a sought-after Christian worldview speaker, theological apologist, radio personality and author of more than 30 books. 

This life redemption would not have been possible without the public brokenness.  Chuck Colson would have never become the man that God used to minister to literally millions of people, both in and out of prison, without this experience.  That’s called grace, and it is at the crux of the Easter story.

As Christians, we believe that Christ, the Son of God, died specifically not for the righteous, but sinners (Matt. 9:13). Who is a sinner? We all are. Every single one of us who has ever been unkind, lied, or been disobedient. All of it counts! Jesus was the only sinless man ever born, and yet, He stepped in to take our punishment and, in the process, conquered sin and ultimately death. He rose to new life and, through his atonement, offers a clean slate before a Holy God, redeeming those in bondage to sin.  That’s what Easter is all about.

I know it’s interesting to read and watch bad people get their just desserts or to even feel a sense of self-righteousness watching the lives of celebrities and political figures come crashing down because of bad choices and dishonesty. But we need to remember that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 6:23).

I am one of countless broken humans redeemed over the past two millennia who claim Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. He is risen for all the people caught in scandals, and for those who were never caught, and for those who are just plain broken. Jesus on the Cross took the punishment I deserve for my sins and now because of His resurrection I stand forgiven and redeemed by His grace. He will do the same for any who come to Him in brokenness. He is risen. He is risen indeed!

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike