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Bubba Watson, Tim Tebow and Easter

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Bubba Watson of the U.S. hits his approach shot to the 10th green during a playoff in the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 8, 2012 (Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch)

Bubba Watson has never taken a golf lesson.  He is one of the longest hitters golf has ever seen, but he had never won a major championship.  That changed yesterday with one of the most spectacular shots in the history of the Masters–a hook from the pine straw that won a playoff and cemented his place in golfing lore.  Watching the final round yesterday was my favorite sporting experience this year.  But the Masters is now over for me; it will be a permanent part of Bubba Watson’s life.  What’s the difference?  I was a spectator–he was a participant.

It is just the opposite reading this morning about Tim Tebow’s Easter appearance at a church near Austin, Texas.  As many as 20,000 came to Celebration Church’s Easter on the Hill in Georgetown to hear him encourage Christians to be public about our faith.  To non-believers, Tebow’s talk is a one-day story.  To those of us who follow Jesus, it’s a message that resonates every day.  They are spectators–we are participants.

On average, half of those who attended worship services yesterday won’t be back next Sunday.  For them, Easter is a day on the calendar, a religious event with little relevance to the rest of their lives.  But we were made for more of God than that.  Just as your computer needs electricity, you were designed to require a continued connection with your Maker.  The consequences of spectator faith are obvious in our society.

I’m reading Sylvia Longmire’s sobering Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars. According to her research, Mexican cartels are operating in more than 270 American cities.  They continue to grow because demand continues to grow.  Every day, 8,000 Americans try an illegal drug for the first time.  As a result, some 17,000 Americans die every year from drug use.  The ultimate solution is simple: no demand, no supply.  Our nation desperately needs what only a spiritual awakening can produce.

Why, then, do we confine Easter to a day on the calendar?  I think that thinking about the risen and ever-present Christ makes many of us uncomfortable.  We’re glad Jesus rose from the dead so we can rise from the dead, but we don’t want him to interfere with the way we live our lives today.  If he’s alive and present in the world today, the Christ who knows our thoughts (Matthew 12:25) and sees our actions can hold us accountable for Monday, not just Sunday.

If we’re Easter spectators, the holiday is irrelevant to the rest of the year.  If we’re Easter participants, the holy day changes everything.  Easter spectators think about Jesus on religious days.  Easter participants start every morning with him and stay connected with his Spirit’s leadership and power all through the day.

Which are you?