Many of you know that I practice a very personal and private faith. It's something that I feel is between myself and God, not something to flaunt in the streets and bash people around the head with. I strongly support one doing their own research and making their own conclusions on what they believe - you simply can't just jump into a (non-)religious belief and hope it's right. It's essentially a matter of eternal life or death and one's decision must be made wisely, considering the evidence they have in front of them. Believing something because mother and father do is just not good enough. Adhering to a religious doctrine because it makes you feel good is simply stupid. One should place faith in something because they believe it is actually true and because they understand why they believe it. For this reason, I feel Eastertime is the perfect time for me to discuss why I'm a Christian instead of the atheist I once was.
For me, it comes back to what Jesus Christ did this time just under two thousand years ago. Whether or not you are currently a Christian, there is no intelligent reason or way to deny that a man named Jesus Christ walked the earth and was crucified on a cross. To claim that Christ did not exist is to discredit all study of history and is a grave fallacy. If we write off all historical documents as unreliable if they refer to Christ, then we simply cannot believe ANY historical documents referring to an event that happened before current living memory - essentially, in a few years, we won't even be able to say that World War One happened. I don't have time to outlay all the details about why the evidence for Christ's reality is so credible (and greater than the evidence for the existence of Julius Caesar) or to go into an elaborate explanation of why the Bible is accepted as a historical authority, but I can say this - we know Jesus Christ walked the earth in an outlying Roman province and was crucified.
So what do we make of this? Well firstly, we must ask one question - did Christ rise from the dead? Again, there is no reason to deny the reality of the resurrection. If Christ did not rise from the dead, there is no way to explain why the disciples acted the way they did or why the Christian faith has survived all these years. These men had placed everything in Jesus, and then he was crucified! The man they worshipped was DEAD. These eleven men and all the other committed followers were in absolute despair, for everything they had was gone. It's likely they'd completely stopped thinking rationally. And then suddenly their behaviour changes! These hopeless men suddenly become filled with hope! They start preaching a risen Christ and are filled with joy. Their turn-around in behaviour is so abnormal that without a resurrection, it just wouldn't have happened. They never renounce their belief in a living Christ even to death. They face the greatest trials and tribulations for their claims, and never once do any of them deny it or confess to spinning a lie. Are these actions those of deceivers? Not at all. A liar doesn't invent a fraudulent occurrence that's only going to bring him pain - he'd invent something that'd bring respect and riches. A deceiver won't die for his lie. It's as simple as that. These men preached what they believed because what they believed they saw, and it was real. Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
To recap so far, it is historical fact that Jesus Christ existed, was put to dead, and then rose to life. I have heard of claims of people being raised from the dead (all related to Christianity, too), but never one of someone raising themselves from the dead, especially not with such convincing supporting evidence. To add to this, Christ himself prophecied that he would die and then rise on the third day. He did exactly what he said he would do, and endured the most vicious punishment for us.
The most pressing question for today, being the day we commemorate Christ's death, is why did he die and what does it mean for us? Essentially, to bring about our salvation. This all goes back to the Fall. God created man to live for him, but man's selfishness took over and he fell. He began living for himself and lost sight of God. Man broke his relationship with God and nothing he could do could redeem himself. He couldn't bridge the divide, he couldn't hold to a law, he couldn't do a single thing. Every part of his being was tainted by sin. So therefore, Christ came to bridge the divide, wash away the sin, and bring about a workable salvation through love and grace. To take a quote from the Bible, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Through his death and subsequent resurrection, we may attain fellowship with God and know him again.
For this reason, I feel Easter is a time for giving thanks and worship to God, a time to be spent in sober reflection, focusing on the greatest event in all history. It's an event that's changed millions upon millions of lives in the past, and an event that has not had its impact dulled by time. The death and resurrection of Christ has greatly influenced human history, and we shouldn't even think of ignoring it or treating it disrespectfully.