There are so many things I do just because. Because that’s the way my parents did it. Because that’s the way everybody does it. Because that’s just what you do. But daily I am growing more convinced that just because living is not only foolish, but dangerous. The Bible calls us very clearly to a single purpose–that everything we do, say, think, believe, desire, accept, reject, love, and hate must glorify God so that His name will be great in our lives and among the nations. If that is the mission then everything we do or don’t do must be filtered through that lens.
Around this time of year, moms often ask me whether we “do” the Easter bunny. And I offer a very vague response. “No, I never grew up with the Easter bunny.” I’m vague because I know the Easter bunny is not sinful, in and of himself. I know that many parents who are passionate about Jesus and His mission, choose to surprise their children on Easter morning with a basket of gifts from the Easter bunny. I know that to many it is a special, even magical, family tradition. And I know that of every people group on the planet, no one heaps as much guilt upon themselves as mothers. Our hearts are fodder for guilt. And the last thing I ever want to do is fan the flame of false condemnation.
So hear my heart when I say, I’m not writing as Super-Mom or Super-Holier-Than-Thou-Mom. Those things disgust me, because they’re lies. They discredit all Christ’s work in my life. I am writing as a sister, who is learning something that I want to share in love: We don’t do the Easter bunny because we don’t think the Easter bunny is the most effective way to glorify God at Easter.
It’s not the bunny, so much as the gifts he brings. A few weeks ago, we took our kids to a downtown festival. Disaster. Much of it was poor parenting–we didn’t set limits in advance or warn them that we weren’t going to ride, play, eat, and buy everything in sight. Suffice to say, it was miserable. On the way home, my husband made the remark that the festival was like Sin City for kids. It had everything they desired. It catered to all their cravings. And the more they consumed, the more demanding and ungrateful they became. In essence, we thrust them into temptation without any training to stand up under it.
The Bible warns against putting obstacles or “stumbling blocks” in the way of a brother or sister (Rom 14:13, I Cor 8:9), and this is my greatest fear when it comes to the Easter bunny. If the gospel is the most important message I can ever convey to my children, and if their understanding of it and receptivity to it determines the satisfaction of their life and the security of their eternal home, then why would I put any obstacle in their path that may distract from the gospel? When my girls hear the word Easter, I don’t want them to squeal in delight because their first thought is that a bunny will bring them a Barbie doll. And I know my girls. I know that just like their mom, their flesh is weak toward materialism. I know that just like their mom, they constantly seek false refuges for satisfaction. Just like their mom, they’re tempted to believe that things can fulfill them more than Jesus can fulfill them.
I know that only God saves (Jn 6:44), but I want to set my daughters up to see the gospel by creating a home where as few things as possible compete with it. My daughters have a mother who still believes that television and the latest Pamela Schoenewaldt novel is more satisfying and restful than Christ. They have a mother who still studies the Bible like it’s suggested summer reading. Who still can’t even wrestle her own weak flesh out of the bed to meet with the God of the universe. It is hard enough. It is hard enough to grasp the magnitude and implications of the gospel. It’s hard enough to shake the worldliness out of our vastly diluted cultural Christianity. Why add one more opportunity for our kids to turn the focus of Easter into a focus on self?
Let me, please, pour out this confession in closing: sometimes I don’t want to write anything to you because I am so deeply and painfully aware of my own failure as a Christian. If only you could really see me (I’m talking Nanny-cam see me), you would never feel threatened by me. Instead, you would say, Man, God is INCREDIBLE to have not given up on her.
And that’s why I have the confidence to write to you. Because God is incredible. His grace is incredible! We still do Easter egg hunts and bouncy house family fun days, and a thousand other things every day of the year that could threaten to distract from the gospel. We are by no means that perfect family. We are simply growing by grace, and I want to share with you the things God is teaching me so that we can think together, worship together, and rejoice in the grace of God together.
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