The Other Side of Contrast: Easter 2024

I was born and raised in Southern California. Several things draw people to that area, but one of the big ones is the weather. Most of the year the temperature is a consistent 70-ish degrees. It’s the greatest thing in the world.


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Seeing our Colorado weather lately, I may have been spoiled by living in California. We didn’t have any of the contrast in the weather like we do here. It can be dead of winter one day and spring or summer the next. We didn’t have this foolishness in California

I’ve been here a little while now, so I’m getting used to it. But it still floors me at times. I took these pictures recently. This first picture was on Monday.

The front lawn of Green Mountain Christian Church taken on a Monday with a lot of snow on the lawn and roof.

This next picture was taken Saturday, just a few days later.

The front lawn on Saturday morning at Green Mountain Christian Church with bright sunny skies and a clear green lawn.

This makes sense to me. There’s no logical explanation for this. Seeing the contrast when looking at both pictures together, you’d think they were two different parts of the world.

I’m thankful that with a nice day today, I’m living on this side of the contrast. I’d rather live with the sunny weather and good vibes because that means we don’t have to shovel snow or be cooped up inside.

Celebrating the contrast of Easter

Looking at a contrast like this can help us understand and celebrate the beauty of Easter. When it comes to Easter there is so much to celebrate, to take in, and engage.

The biggest and most obvious thing to celebrate is the resurrection of Jesus. He came to the cross, then walked out of the grave three days later. That’s an amazing thing to celebrate. The resurrection is why we are here today.

However, there’s a danger of Easter celebrations becoming mundane. It’s not that the resurrection is mundane, it is not. But the repetition of the celebration can allow us to forget the importance and wonder of this day.

The contrast of Easter may reawaken our celebration of the resurrection. Maybe it renews how incredible this day is for us. Recognizing the differences can elevate how we celebrate this day, upgrade our celebration, and remind us how incredible this day truly is.

We should look at how multi-faceted the resurrection is. It wasn’t just a one-off event that just happened. It was something that impacted everything, and in particular, it impacted our relationship with God.

The contrast of the resurrection

One of my favorite things to do is to watch TV with my wife. Jenna and I might be watching Survivor on TV, and some dramatic moment happens where we’ll look at each other with our mouths open and both say “nothing is going to be the same because of what just happened.”

The same thing is true of our relationship with God: Nothing will be the same because of the resurrection. But for us, it’s so much better than on a TV show. We see this come to life in something Peter wrote:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

1 Peter 1:3

Peter says there’s a contrast here because of the resurrection. We were given new birth into a living hope. We talk often about being “born again,” reflecting the opportunity we have with Jesus: When we give Him first place through our faith, we can start again with God.

Our past mistakes no longer have the place they did in our lives. Messing up with God no longer stays with us. That’s good news for those of us who’ve made a mistake or two in our lives.

The contrast of Easter is we can have a new opportunity, a clean slate, and a new start with God. Peter calls it a living hope through Jesus, meaning that even our hope is different because of the resurrection.

The contrast of hope

As a child one Christmas, I really wanted the new Power Ranger action figures set. I got the catalog, circled it in red, and sent it off to Santa, hoping with all the hope I could muster that I would get them. But my hope wasn’t rooted in anything. There was no substance.

Some of our hopes can be abstract. We conjure up ideas and hope they work. We have a situational hope that feels convenient. But we discover that many things we put our hope in have no substance. There is no basis for it.

Hope in Jesus is different in that there’s substance. It’s not wishful thinking but is based on the resurrection. Our hope is alive and powerful because of where it comes from. Because of the resurrection, hope in Jesus is real.

Our new birth is a chance to start again with God because of what happened on this side of the contrast. Our hope isn’t just a wish but is rooted in something real, powerful, and alive.

The contrast of newness

Paul brings out another aspect of contrast in his second letter to the church in Corinth

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone, the new is here.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Earlier, Peter talked about the new birth. Now Paul speaks of the newness that comes when we accept Jesus. We can start again. The old person we once were changes because of the newness of Christ.

Do you ever reflect back on life like I do and think, “I’m so thankful I’m not who I was back then?”

As a college freshman, my circle of friends and I would get into these terrible relationships. Due to our immaturity, many of us were not ready yet for something serious. I’m not sure any of those relationships at that time survived, they went that badly. Some years have passed and many of us could look back and say, “I was so dumb.”

You may have similar experiences where you are thankful you are a different person. When we look at those changes, and the contrast between who we were then and who we are now, we can see a spiritual equivalent to when we came to Christ. It isn’t about things like bad dating habits, but that our entire outlook and approach to life changes because of Christ.

In a Christ-centered outlook, we can see that something about the deepest parts of our nature begins to change. We see and understand God differently and interact differently with people and the world.

That’s because when we say yes to Jesus, we change. Paul says that not only do you perceive and do things differently, but the old you is gone. The new is here. Because the resurrection made you new, there’s a contrast between who you once were and who you are in Christ.

The contrast of our relationship with God

All of this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sin against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Paul talked earlier about how the resurrection changes our nature. Now he talks about the change in our relationship with God. We have been reconciled to Christ. We see a contrast in our relationship with Him.

Reconciled means that you’ve had your relationship restored. It’s like when you’re at a family gathering and Uncle Jay starts talking about politics. You have very different views and the two of you get into it. It becomes awkward for you and everyone else for a while. After a while, you hug it out and make up. That relationship has been restored, you’ve been reconciled.

The Word says we’ve been reconciled to God through Jesus.

The tension in our relationship with God

I’ve heard a few people in ministry who don’t believe God likes them. They believe there’s no way God could like them, often because of something in their past. Maybe it’s a habit or something they’ve done. It could be their distance from the church.

We in the church should remember and communicate this passage, because it tells us that through Jesus we’ve been reconciled. None of those things matter. The entire sacrifice of Jesus going to the cross and paying for our sins comes from a place of love. There was a point where our sins, wrongdoings, and stepping away from God prevented us from moving forward with Him.

On this side of the contrast, that’s no longer the case.

You’ve likely witnessed relationship tensions before. Maybe it’s a romantic relationship, a family one, or just a platonic friendship. One person maybe can’t get past what another has done. When that happens, the relationship begins to suffer and it’s hard to move forward.

There’s a point where sin keeps us from moving forward in our relationship with God. God is holy, he’s incompatible with sin. In the Old Testament, people had to go out of their way to make sacrifices to be okay with God. And we all can get it wrong a time or two, right?

The cross and the resolution of those tensions

On the cross, Jesus took responsibility for our sins. He restored our relationship, allowing us to move forward without the barriers that had been there. We had been unreconciled with God, but because of what happened on the cross, that’s no longer true.

If we want a new story, a new dynamic with God, we can have it because we are reconciled due to what Jesus has done. That means we can put away the narrative or thought process that says “God would not like me.” We’ve been brought together through Jesus.

On this side of the contrast, we experience reconciliation with God. When we understand that, God is not an enemy, a stranger, or just some being in the sky.

The impact of the contrast of the resurrection

When we understand the reconciliation that Jesus brought about, it can make our celebration of Easter all the more impactful. Paul said earlier that we are reconciled when we come to Jesus and accept what he’s done. Then he goes on in verse 20:

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:20

Paul said in verse 17 that in Christ, we are a new creation. Verse 18 said that as a new creation, we are reconciled to God. In verse 19, Paul said God doesn’t count people’s sins against them, instead he invites them to him.

Now, in verse 20, Paul says that we accept this and allow it to transform our lives, that we become so reconciled to Christ that we become ambassadors of reconciliation.

An ambassador is an official reconciliation. Paul tells us that our reconciliation is so extensive, that we are so in with God, that we become representatives to tell other people about Him.

This is a stark contrast between what was and what is.

Paul finishes with a plea: Be reconciled to God. Come to God and accept his love and sacrifice. Receive his forgiveness. Turn away from the ways of old, and begin again with God.

Be reconciled with God.

Our journey with God starts with reconciliation. It shows a God who loves so big that he went to the cross for the sins of people. That God loved so big that he died for the sins of those whom he created. There is a god that loves so big that he came back from the grave to get them, that he reconciled people to himself. God’s love is so big that we carry the message of reconciliation with us.

All of this took place on this side of the contrast of the resurrection. The contrast shows how everything about our faith and our life is different because of this day.

On this side of the resurrection, we receive a new beginning.

We get to begin again with God.

Our old ways, our sins, and our past no longer have the place they once did. We get to start again with a new opportunity, a new life. We can go from where we are instead of being anxious about where we’ve been.

Sometimes if we’re being honest, that can be the thing that keeps us from moving forward. We’re afraid of what God thinks about where we’ve been and what we’ve done, and that stops us from moving forward with Him.

But on this side of the resurrection, we have a new beginning with God.

On this side of the contrast, we receive a new relationship with God.

Alex, who’s on the worship team, has become a really great friend of mine in the past year and a half. We have this dynamic where every time we see each other, we shadow-box one another and pretend to beat each other up.

I was thinking about if I went up to a stranger and did that, I don’t think I’d get the same reaction. I might get rocked off my butt if I did that to someone else. But the things Alex and I can do comes from our connection, from having a relationship and friendship together.

It’s a lot like our relationship with God. Because of the resurrection, we have a whole new dynamic with God. He’s not a stranger, just some deity or being in the sky. We aren’t throwing up prayers hoping that he answers. Instead we have a connection and relationship that lets us move forward without fear. We can do so without anxiety because of what he’s done on this side of the resurrection.

On this side of the contrast, we receive a new purpose.

People wonder often in life what their purpose is. What am I supposed to do with my life? What should I do next? This often comes from anxiety and uncertainty about what their purpose is.

When we look at our purpose, we tend to root it in our passions. What are the things we’re good at or that we enjoy doing? And there’s a place for that.

But what we saw in verse 20 is that our primary purpose is to be an ambassador of God’s reconciliation. That provides for us a sense of stability in an unstable world. When the economy goes bad, your purpose hasn’t changed. If something happens like a job loss, your purpose in Christ hasn’t changed.

You may be a banker, but you’re also an ambassador for Christ. Maybe you work in children’s ministry but you’re an ambassador for Christ. You might be a parent, but you’re also an ambassador for Christ.

What this does is tell you that your purpose and goals are rooted in Jesus, not in what you do. The economy has no power to change your purpose. Life’s circumstances cannot change your purpose. External things that we cannot control do not have the power to change your purpose.

Your purpose is rooted in who you are in Jesus, as opposed to the things you can do, how good you are or how sharp your skills are. Your purpose is deeper because it’s rooted in the identity God gave you, not the identity we’ve assumed for ourselves.

On this side of the contrast, we receive a new purpose.

On this side of the contrast, we receive a new plea.

Our plea is different. On this side of the contrast, our plea becomes to be reconciled to God. That’s the message that we’re carrying. That’s the reason that we do what we do. Because we carry this message: Be reconciled to God. Come to God and receive His forgiveness.

It means come to God and receive His love. Come to God and receive his purpose. Start again. Put away the shame, the anxiety, the fear, and the baggage. Our plea is to come to God and start again, be reconciled to Him.

Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, we receive a new plea, we receive a new purpose, a new beginning, and a new relationship. This is what happens on this side of the contrast.