We are approaching Easter weekend. Outside of Christmas, these days commemorating the death and resurrection are among the most approachable and accessible to the watching world.
For at least a few days, even those who would not consider themselves devout slow down to admire Jesus. While this is a beautiful access point, it was never Jesus’s end goal in going to the Cross. In the words of Soren Kierkegaard, Jesus does not want admirers, he wants followers.
Born & Bored on the Same Day
People love a show; we always have. I remember being a little girl and watching the circus train arrive in our small town on the Jersey Shore. We would watch them unload the animals and scatter hay all over the muddy, trodden grounds. There was such a sense of eager anticipation that I thought my tiny heart would burst.
Entirely too much candy and popcorn would be consumed. There would be a few minutes of wonder. And then, we would head home and promptly forget about it for a calendar year.
Annie Dillard notices a similar tendency in the human heart in her book Teaching A Stone to Talk. She describes the crowds of people she joined to watch a full solar eclipse on Mount Adams. She remembers the screams of wonder, shock, and delight as the sun went dark. As shocking as it was to experience something so other-worldly together, she was equally shocked at how quickly everyone moved on:
“I remember now: we all hurried away. We were born and bored at a stroke. We rushed down the hill. We found our car; we saw the other people streaming down the hillsides; we joined the highway traffic and drove away.”
I fear that my heart often responds the same to the events of Easter each year: the build up, the anticipation, the emotion, the wonder, the disassembling and moving on.
We dress up; we prepare an extra full worship band; we up our signage game. Then we move on as admirers rather than pick up our crosses as followers. We are tempted to treat the resurrection of Christ as a day worth noting rather than the revolutionary day that it is. This day we remember, this day when a dead Savior breathed again, conquering death, this day demands a lifelong response not a check box on a response card.
Followers vs. Admirers
Pastor/poet George Herbert captures this conundrum we face at Easter so well in his poem “Easter (II)” :
“Can there be any day but this,
Though many suns to shine endeavor?
We count three hundred, but we miss:
There is but one, and that one ever.”
An admirer says this day is significant and moves on. A follower says there is no day but this. According to Kierkegaard, “An admirer…keeps himself personally detached. He fails to see that what is admired involves a claim upon him.” He goes on to say the following convicting words about admirers of Christ:
“The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in word he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, he renounces nothing, will not reconstruct his life, and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires. Not so the follower. No, No. The follower aspires with all his strength to be what he admires.”
I long to be a follower, not a mere admirer. I don’t want to be born and bored on the same day. I want to be born and bored through by the reality of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
In the words of the Apostle Paul, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinth. 15:19-20).
The right response to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is to hidden in life, death, and resurrection:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I live now in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).