It was really neat to travel through different parts of Europe during la Semana Santa (Holy Week, aka, Easter). One of my roommates, Rosie, and I traveled to Barcelona, Milan, Lugano (Switzerland), Rome, and Madrid. Rome was especially interesting to me because of the strong Catholic influence there. We visited the Vatican, and I saw there more than anywhere else that people focus so much on Christ's crucifixion rather than his resurrection. Isn't that what Easter is all about, Christ being raised from the dead? Is that not our hope, our deliverance? Yes, the crucifixion is very important, but we cannot afford to overlook the importance of his resurrection. I'm not trying to point fingers and accuse the Catholic faith, which I know very little about. I, myself, am guilty of forgetting about Christ's resurrection. But Europe, in general (from what I've seen), has had this mindset of religious thinking-
"Jesus was a prophet, a teacher, a good person. He was crucified. He is dead. Why would I want to have anything to do with that?"
No wonder there is such a famine of life here. While in Rome, Rosie and I almost accidentally stumbled across the prison where Peter and Paul were kept. From the outside, it was probably the most unimpressive place we visited during all of spring break, compared to the elaborate cathedrals with beautiful paintings and gold structures. But to know that two men, whom I look up to so much as fellow followers of Christ, were held captive in this exact place because they were following the One they love so much meant more to me than any historical, beautiful, elegant place in the whole world. On the outside of the prison there was a sign with Romans 6:8-11, "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive in God in Christ Jesus."
In a place that teaches by example to live by your flesh, or according to whatever you feel like doing whether it's good or bad, here is a token of truth. All over Europe there are crucifixes and a lack of symbols of Jesus' resurrection, but here are simple words proclaiming the truth that Jesus rose again, and we are alive because of his resurrection!
Am I living each day seeing Jesus' resurrection as reality? Is it true in my life? Do I live dead to sin but alive in God in Christ Jesus? I certainly struggle daily to remember this. Jesus is not dead. He is alive, he is full of love and joy and supplies an unending fountain of life and strength to us. Would someone who is "dead" be able to do that? I don't think so.
p.s. Interestingly sad: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1891230,00.html