Thomas Kinkade and the Gospel

I love Thomas Kinkade’s art. It is beautiful and usually proclaims a message of Christian hope and light. Apparently the art critic snobs did not agree with me. Kinkade died last Friday, and the art world is still bashing him. Kinkade didn’t care what the experts said, though. He just kept painting and selling. And he made millions because the public loved his light-filled work and message.

Why did the critics sneer? They called it kitschy, unoriginal, and pandering to the unwashed public. They didn’t like his idyllic subject matter, the deliberate Biblical message, or his technique. It just wasn’t sophisticated enough or avant-garde enough for their taste. Give them a blasphemous or inexplicable piece any day.

I am not here to debate Kinkade’s art. But the fuss reminds me of the gospel. The gospel is simple. Paul distills it to this: “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” I Corinthians 15:1-4 (NASB) Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah (or Christ), died for our sins and rose again.

That’s it. Simple enough for a child to understand, yet despised by the sophisticated. It is too crude, too simple, too easy for them. It panders to the masses of non-elites. The Pharisees couldn’t stand it then. They got Jesus killed and then stoned Stephen for preaching a resurrected Jesus. And the snobbery continues today. Just look at the elite academics’ attacks on the Bible for one example.

Go ahead, call me simplistic, foolish, and unoriginal. I will still declare that God loves you and Jesus died for you. It is the absolute truth. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ” I Corinthians 1:18 (NASB)

I Hate Easter

I hate Easter. When I walk into the Easter section of a store like Target or Walmart, I see plastic eggs, candy and sugared marshmallows, stuffed bunnies, and pastel “spring” items. There are no crosses, no empty tombs, and nothing about the resurrection. Then there are the egg hunts, except when parents are so aggressive fighting for fake eggs and cheap candy that the whole thing has to be canceled. What are we doing? We have lost the whole meaning of Easter.

Easter also brings out the annual attacks on Jesus, Christians, and the church. This year it is Andrew Sullivan’s cover story in Newsweek, “Christianity in Crisis“. He would argue that he defends the “historical” Jesus, but he can’t attack His bride (the church) without attacking Him. However, the original Easter was an attack on Jesus, too, so maybe this is “appropriate.”

Easter, or as I prefer, Resurrection Day, is about Jesus (God in the flesh) rising from the dead. It is a remembrance of the central truth of Christianity. If there is no resurrection, Christianity is worse than a farce. Paul summed it up in I Corinthians 15:16-19:

” For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” NASB

The resurrection is literally true. The whole New Testament testifies to this central fact. If it could be proven false, there would be no Christianity. Skeptics like Frank Morison and Lee Strobel set out to disprove it, but ended up as believers. The evidence really is overwhelming.

So, yes, I hate the plastic substitutes we call “Easter,” but I love the Jesus who died for me and rose from the dead.

In our family, we try to keep to the true meaning of the Easter season. In our nightly devotions we read through Mark’s account of Jesus’ last week before the crucifixion. We put a cross in our yard for the week leading up to Easter. On Good Friday, we drape it with black cloth and read about the crucifixion with our children. Then, early on Easter morning, we take off the black and drape it with glorious white as we read about the resurrection.  What does your family do to emphasize the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday?