Many Christians get riled up about Satan’s attacks on Christmas. Santa, tinsel, and gifts get in the way of seeing the baby in the manger. I get that. However, I get more upset about what our enemy does with Easter. I’m not just talking about fuzzy bunnies and egg hunts, although those do turn our gaze away from the empty tomb. I’m talking about something more insidious. Every Easter morning in America, you’ll see a young man or woman, or maybe a young couple, sitting by themselves in a strange church, worshipping with people they don’t know. Why? They came home for an Easter visit with their unbelieving parents and headed off for church alone. Other young believers will sit next to their believing folks, worshipping again together as a family on this most important day of the Christian calendar.
What’s wrong with that, you might ask? Two things, I’d argue. First, Easter isn’t about your parents and that family. It’s about Jesus and his family. Why would you worship with your church family every day of the year except for the most important day? Why would you allow Satan to turn it into another family dinner? Second, making it a family holiday ruins the greatest missional opportunity of the year. Non-Christians and un-churched or de-churched people will visit churches on Easter Sunday. We just have to invite them. But you won’t invite others when you’re not going to be there. And, if you go home to see mom and dad, you’ll distract your parents from reaching out to their neighbors, as well.
But you say, “I’m going home for missional reasons! My parents don’t know Jesus, and I want to share Him with them.” Great. But do you actually share Christ with them then? Will you really take them along to a church in that city? Probably not. Additionally, do you really think that heading home is sending them the right message? That they’re at the center of your life, not Jesus? That His mission isn’t your chief concern? Perhaps in the short-term, it seems to help things. They’re not mad at you. You don’t feel as guilty. You toss in the evangelism card, and it’s even better. But, taking the long view, does it really help bring them to Jesus? It’s doubtful. What they need to see is a Jesus who demands your everything, whose mission you’re all about, who is risen from the dead. You’re not only hurting your church family and hindering God’s mission in your city, but you’re possibly even hurting your parents.
Here’s a suggestion: invite your non-Christian parents to come with you to your church to hear the gospel. Don’t let it distract you from the mission, though. Have your folks join you for an Easter lunch on your turf. Let them see you on mission in your neighborhood. If your parents are believers, encourage them to be missional in their context. Explain to them how important your church and its mission is to you in yours. Perhaps God could use you to even respectfully teach your mother and father. You could be a means to their growth.
Whether it’s Christmas or Easter, our Enemy wants us to turn the holiday into an occasion for family idolatry. He wants to distract us from our church family and her mission in her city. He wants to tempt well-meaning parents and kids to get distracted during a critical missional time. Don’t bite the hook. Have a hard conversation with Mom and Dad, but trust the Lord to sort it all out for you. Go “home” another weekend. Don’t waste your Easter.