On Easter Sunday, millions of people all over the world will gather in church services just because it is Easter. It is most likely the one Sunday out of the year when attendance figures go through the roof. But we have to ask why?
Why do people who obviously have no use for church on a regular basis, who clearly have no desire for Jesus Christ to exercise His resurrection power in their lives, whose ambitions in this life are totally focused on this life, whose final days and whose funerals will be inordinately sad because everyone recognizes that they did not live for God or the Truth--why do such people come to church on Easter Sunday morning?
The answer to the question is residual impact. People go to church on Easter because somewhere in the back of their minds there is a latent thought that God ought to be acknowledged at least at Easter time. And that thought, lurking in the back of the mind like a mouse living under a pile of dead leaves in the late autumn, prods them to be responsible to God at least once a year. This is residual impact.
The dead leaves once were alive. The living leaves lived in a time when nourishment and sunlight and warm, carefree days were the norm. But the fall came. The cold, dreary days descended. The leaves died. The mouse found a habitat in them. They aren't completely useless. They give the mouse a home. But, the mouse's house will eventually turn to decay and dust--and the mouse will have to look for somewhere else to live. And, so it is with Easter.
Families who only take their children to church on Easter are decaying leaves. The next generation will reject the facade of religion at Easter time. It will open its mind and heart to anti-religion. It will produce preachers who have no use for the Bible. It will produce judges who outlaw the teaching of self-control as a religion-value that has no place in a pluralistic society. It will produce politicians who get convicted of sodomy and all it brings is a slap on the hand--and a promotion to a key sub-committee where those values can be promoted. It will produce people whose lives are so empty that the only pleasure there is in life is to fight with one's neighbors over whatever comes along. It will produce a multiplicity of new religions--some of which give lip service to resurrection power, but do not promote the use of that power to live godly, loving, powerful lives. It will produce a secular, post-Christian, society where man becomes god and God becomes an old fashioned idea that is no longer needed. It will produce a deep seated longing in the hearts of the abandoned to see evidence of God, which will produce a search for the miraculous and theologies of power encounters with the spirit world and miraculous statues that weep and bleed. It will produce a generation of death. Cold, selfish, empty, death.
So, what about this Easter? Is it going to be church because of residual impact, or a point of turning? Death or life?
God still lives.