People have got to stop quoting Pride wrong. Oh well, could be worse. I once read a newspaper article that said something like "Bono led a chant of 'No war' during Sunday Bloody Sunday, but some fans apparently thought he said 'No more'." Uh, mate, he DID say 'no more'. That's the correct Sunday Bloody Sunday chant. On a few recordings it could potentially be mistaken for 'no war' if you're half-deaf, but REALLY. And you know what's shocked me lately? There are actually people out there who do not know Sunday Bloody Sunday. Well done, you're not aware of arguably one of the most politically charged and controversial songs of the last twenty-two years (yes, SBS was on 1983's War but it was played on 1982's Pre-War tour). How could someone not be aware of that song? It just baffles me. It's one of the legendary U2 songs I grew up with long before becoming a fan: SBS, New Year's Day, Pride, Where The Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, With Or Without You, Angel Of Harlem, Desire, When Love Comes To Town, All I Want Is You, One, Mysterious Ways, and Even Better Than The Real Thing. I grew up with those being songs everyone simply knew, end of story. I get shocked every time I meet someone who doesn't know them.
Though now I've gotten that much into fanaticism that I get shocked when people don't know of Gloria. It's a case of "Come on, you're not aware of the song with the funniest music video in history?!" Really, it should be "Come on André, now you're going a bit far!"
I'm glad I have my thoughts on Easter Saturday to save this entry ...
It appals me how lightly we take the Easter weekend, and quite often, Easter Saturday gets thoroughly ignored. There's a number of things I'd like to explore today.
A bit of a continuation from yesterday.
Why did Christ have to die? I was just skimming through a Time magazine article I'll investigate in more depth later, and it got me thinking about this question again, a question that's been debated a lot and I'm just going to think aloud. I'm not going to claim to be right, this is just some thoughts. So why was he put on the cross, and can we even answer that question this side of eternity? I guess the simple answer is because someone had to do something to save humanity, and he was the only one who could. He had to make a sacrifice to God, a pure and unblemished sacrifice of everything. Essentially, he had to give God all, and being God himself, he could do it for all mankind. It was an all-encompassing sacrifice. Why did God need a sacrifice? Basically, man had done wrong and lived against God, in a permanent state of rebellion. He was imperfect and fallen, and to return to God, man had to give itself back to him and basically sacrifice its everything to God. However, humanity was thoroughly unable to do this, so Christ came and gave his everything - his love, his grace, his spirit, his life, everything. What humanity couldn't do, he did.
That, I feel, is what this weekend is all about. Christ did what no-one else could do and offered all to God. He didn't stop short. He laid down his life, and furthermore, in his resurrection, he showed that when we give to God, he rewards us handsomely. Christ was whipped and beaten - we can gain many images from this, including one I just got: that if something can happen to him and he endures it, we can do it too. Christ had dedication to the point of death, which is something a lot of us need to have. He simply never gave up - often we know what we have to do but don't do it; Christ knew what he had to do, and what's more, HE DID IT. Things were not easy for Christ and he went through some massive internal struggles, but he made it, and so can we. We need to take off the WWJD bracelets for long enough so that we can actually learn from his life. Christ's life is about a little more than "love thy neighbour" and "God is real" - it was about the very reality of living. He's an inspiration, but so often we only get inspired by a small fragment of him.
The despair of the disciples.
I'd now like to move onto the despair of the disciples and other believers after Christ's death. As I said, it is Easter Saturday, an often-ignored day. It's a dreadful shame today is ignored, because it reduces the impact of tomorrow. Sit back and think for a second about what was happening on this day in around about 33AD (no need to argue about the precise year). Jesus was crucified yesterday and is currently lying in his tomb, dead as dead can be. The literal Kingdom you thought was coming isn't a reality, and the man you thought was bringing it was just killed. The man who you thought was going to save and redeem you has absolutely FAILED. He's not a Messiah, he's just another criminal the Romans killed. You gave everything to him, and for what? You've got nothing. It's gone, everything's gone, you're in the depths of despair. God is dead.
That, my friends, is what the disciples went through on Easter Saturday in 33AD. They had NOTHING. They'd followed this man only to watch him die shamefully as a criminal on a Roman cross. The way, the truth, and the light was a badly beaten corpse lying in state in a tomb! To think these men were anything but filled with despair would be lunacy. I doubt they were thinking rationally or even thinking at all. What point was there to living? I'd bet, if it weren't for the events of Easter Sunday, they would've committed suicide.
But their despair suddenly turned to joy. The only way to explain the turn-around in their behaviour is that Christ really did rise from the dead. We know Christ existed and died, we know what impact that had on his disciples, so why in the world would you deny the resurrection? You wouldn't, unless you didn't want Christianity to be true for some reason. The resurrection is sure evidence of God's existence and Jesus' divinity, and suddenly the disciples were alive again. Unlike Judas, who got drowned by his sorrows to the point of death, they despaired for a while and then hope returned. The light shone again. Jesus had risen and conquered death! Not only had he given everything, but he'd conquered everything. He'd given it all to the Father, and the Father consequently gave all (including redemptive power) to the Son.
There are so many lessons we can learn from this. Firstly, we can see just how much of a failure the 'solution' of suicide is. Judas got lost in his sorrows and killed himself; the disciples despaired and were then revitalised and given peace. It shows the clear rewards of perseverence - he who gives up fails and gets naught while he who lasts through every tribulation, no matter how devastating, gets the greatest rewards. God is always there, working to bring about the best result, and sometimes we can't see it, sometimes we can get so lost in the oblivion of depression, but he hasn't given up and he will wipe our tears away. It may not happen now or even in this life, but as the Bible says, in Heaven there will be no time for sorrow, with every tear wiped away. That may sound like empty words, but then again, they probably did to the disciples too and then look what God did for them.
Furthermore, we know that Jesus reigns. He'd conquered all, even death. His Kingdom came - not the physical Kingdom of the Jews, but a spiritual Kingdom. In his conquest of death, the Father granted him power over all, and through his sacrifice, we can attain salvation. By the blood he bled out in the ultimate sacrifice of everything for all humanity, there is salvation, and he has the power to grant it. The despair and hopelessness of sin may last a few days, but Christ has conquered and quite simply, that's that.
Taking Easter lightly.
Considering the absolutely incredible events of the Easter weekend, it is sad how lightly and inappropriately we take it. (And before anyone assumes this is about them, it's not) Too often we fail to pause and reflect, to give just worship and praise, or to simply treat this most holy of weekends with the reverence and respect we should. It seems like many people simply do not understand Easter and abuse it by taking the opportunity to have a holiday and a spot of fun. Well I've got news for you. If you'd just bled for someone, conquered what troubled them, and offered them the ultimate, how would you feel if they just went out and spent some time laughing it up with their friends, ignoring what you'd done? You'd be a tad peeved, don't you think?
It's remarkable just how much we ignore God. It's like we think we're covered by grace, so we can just go out and do what we want, putting God aside until we feel like focusing on him again. Some may think it's authoritive or stupid to put God first and offer it all to him, but I don't see how that's a logical viewpoint. God's the ultimate, perfect, holy being - somehow I think he knows what's good for us! He's the very essence of good, perfection, and love. He knows what we need, what's good for us, and how to care for us. He'll handsomely reward us, and we know just by looking at how the Father rewarded the Son or the parable of the talents. He who dies to self and lives for God gets the reward, while he who kicks back, slacks off, says "I'll have my fun now, God can wait a bit because he's always there" gets little. Worshipping God shouldn't be a chore anyway, but an act of love and devotion. Tomorrow or next week isn't the time to think about Easter - Easter is the time to think about Easter, and every time is time to focus on God. He's done so much for us, we should stop doing so pathetically little in return. After all, Christ preached a faith of activity.
Celebrate! He has loosed the chains and set us free!
I'll let Bono have the last say for today;
Pride, Pride, In The Name Of Love
In the name of love
In the name of the Father
In the name of the Son
In the name of the Holy
In the name of One
- 31 July 1997, Popmart Mannheim