Sleeping On the Gospel

Yesterday morning we went out for breakfast and coffee as a family. The coffee shop we visited was located inside an old brick building called Atherton Mill.

We had visited several times since we moved to Charlotte, but this time an old black and white photo caught my eye. It featured a cotton field, and in the background, what looked like an old cotton mill. As l looked closer, I noticed it looked nearly identical to the building we were standing in.

The realization sunk in. It was that building. Now known as Atherton Mills, the building we were standing in was formerly a cotton mill in the heart of Charlotte.

Instantly, this hipster hotspot became living history. I thought about the blood and sweat that I’m certain stained the wooden floor beneath my feet. I imagined the hundreds, if not thousands, of people that had spent most of their lives laboring inside this old brick building.

I felt kind of silly that it had taken me so long to come to that realization. It’s just that I had never thought about the name of the building beyond a surface level.

It was right there in front of me the whole time. I was close to it, yet so far away. I had known the name — “Atherton Mill” — but I had never recognized the gravity and reality of it.

Being that it was Good Friday, I couldn’t help but think of how closely this relates to how I viewed the story of Easter for most of my life. Growing up I knew all about the crucifixion, the history, and the facts — yet the reality of the cross failed to pierce my heart.

I was close to it, yet so far away. I sat through church service after church service. I watched the blockbuster movie, Passion of the Christ, when it released in theaters (the first rated-R movie I was ever allowed to watch). I listened to countless sermons. Yet none of it caused a change in my heart.

The truth is, I was “sleeping on the gospel.” It wasn’t until it became personal, that I experienced its power. When what was in my head finally pierced my heart, perspective shifted. This is what transformed routine religion into a vibrant relationship for me.

I’m not the first person to be guilty of “sleeping on the gospel.” Jesus’ disciples were guilty of it (literally) in the very moments leading up to His arrest and eventual death. At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus went to pray and after returning, He found His disciples fast asleep. (Mark 26:40)

I’ve always wondered how the disciples could fall asleep right before the Son of God, their promised Messiah, was about to be murdered. But I think I have a hint.

They had yet to recognize the reality of what Jesus had been telling them all along. He was moments away from hoisting the sins of the world on His shoulders, but they didn’t see it that way.

Jesus — the Son of God — described the weight of this moment when He said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38)

But the disciples didn’t feel the weight of it like He did, nor did they sense the significance of the circumstances

They were sleeping on it, both literally and figuratively.

As you attend church this weekend and celebrate Easter, I want to encourage you to evaluate your perspective of it. Maybe Easter is about more than you’ve been giving it credit for. Perhaps you’ve been sleeping on it like I did for most of my life.

Some things require a spiritual understanding, not just an intellectual one.

Easter is not just a historical event or holiday.

It’s not an Easter egg hunt or chocolate bunnies.

It’s not a sermon series or a church service.

It’s not simply religion or another ritual.

Easter is the gospel. The good news. An invitation into relationship with the God of the universe. A relationship only made possible by the sacrifice of His perfect Son.

This is the gospel. This is real love. This is truly good news — and it’s for absolutely everyone.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

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