-by Jonathan Michael Dean
I saw this phrase on a billboard the other day: silly rabbit, Easter is for Jesus! I used to eat Trix Cereal! Have you? Their mascot is a rabbit who is always trying to steal the Trix cereal box. At the end of every commercial the children say, “silly rabbit, Trix are for kids”. Does it seem like the Easter Bunny is always trying to steal Easter?
The Easter Bunny is controversial, to say the least. Churches have split over this issue. Sounds like a scandal. Should we or should we not incorporate secular Easter traditions at home and in the Church? You can read a dozen books on the history of the Easter Bunny. For me, the history isn’t that relevant anymore. I won’t even mention history. Instead, for me, there is a different dilemma; a dilemma that has to do with our child’s affections.
As a kid, I loved the Easter egg-hunt at my Aunt Lynn’s house. What child wouldn’t love free candy and a mystery egg-hunt? Chocolate, Skittles, and sugar, what a wonderful day! I remember scrambling around her backyard in my Church clothes, on cool Michigan afternoons, in search of candy. However, on Easter, I don’t remember Jesus.
I grew up in a single-parent home, but it was a Christian home. Or, at least, it was obvious that my mother was a Christian. We went to Church often but not consistently. My siblings and I put up a good fight against Church every Sunday morning. My mother even tried having family devotions. We made this difficult too. We just weren’t interested in God like she was.
There were many reasons for our disinterest in God. One, we didn’t have a father figure consistently modeling a passion for Jesus in front of us. Two, because of our pestering, my mother was inconsistent in her resilience to teach us. Three, and most of all, because we were sinners. Because of these factors, and the other activities, my memories of Christ, on Easter, are all but absent. The Easter egg-hunt stands out, front row and center.
I am not against Easter egg-hunts, egg painting, or even seeing the Easter Bunny. I am cautioning you. Are the Easter egg-hunts and egg painting out shining Christ? Will your child’s memories be centered around a ridiculous rabbit or a risen Lord? Silly rabbit, Easter is for Jesus…
Idolatry occurs when anything or anyone steals God’s spotlight; when anything or anyone is given more focus, love, and attention than Christ. An Easter egg-hunt probably doesn’t affect you in this way, but the devil isn’t after you in this. He’s after your child. And he wants their heart. When an Easter egg-hunt and candy are remembered by a child more than Christ, it is idolatry. Not that the child is to be blamed, but the parents. The parents are facilitating an atmosphere that promotes idolatry. Christian children are growing up with the idea that it is okay for things to compete for their affections -even on the most sacred holy days of the year. So long as it’s dressed up like a cute bunny, it’s okay for it to share in Christ’s spotlight. When they grow up, it becomes money -work before Church. It becomes entertainment -football before worship, and many other things.
Children are sinners just like anyone else. The only difference is they don’t know it. They love things like cartoons and candy. Though we tell them to love Christ more, are we showing them? Are we creating an atmosphere that protects their heart from the world and guides their affections heavenward? Christian children are privileged to learn of Christ, don’t spoil it by welcoming in the competition.
Silly rabbit, Easter is for Jesus. Easter isn’t for our children. How has the day become a child extravaganza? It isn’t even for us. Easter is for Jesus. It is a day to worship and celebrate Him, thus bringing Him Joy and Glory! We should have fun! If celebrating Jesus isn’t fun for you, then you may need to consider if you know Him at all. The authentic mark of a believer is a love and passion for Jesus that is lived out in obedience. In order to love celebrating Jesus, you must be Born Again.
If you’re going to do an egg-hunt and all the other secular stuff, do it on Saturday, or a week before. If you’re going to do it on Sunday, I caution you greatly. I won’t call it sin, but I will say it’s dangerous. And no matter the circumstances, it should never be done in a Church on Easter. It may be okay on some other day, but not on The Day.
I’m not a grumpy old man trying to ruin the fun. I’m 28 years old, married, and have a five-year-old daughter. Don’t tell me to get with the times. Making worship fun and interactive for children is important. Just don’t use a symbol that the world itself uses and has no relationship to Christ at all. After years of putting Jesus in an egg, the adult can remove Jesus, keep the egg, and still feel some satisfactory emotional tie to the Jesus of their past. The point is simple: be careful what vessel you use to carry Jesus to your children. Jesus won’t sink. But the vessel can.
As a Christian parent, it is your job to thoughtfully and prayerfully teach your children about Christ in a fun and interactive way. There is no one set formula. My daughter and I have an Easter Sunday tradition. Every year I buy a lamb. (If any animal symbolizes Easter it’s the lamb.) I let her carry the lamb with her all day, especially to Church. Throughout the day, we play a game: I hide the lamb and she has to find it. While she diligently searches, I sing a song…
“Have you found the lamb of God, the lamb of God, the lamb of God; have you found the lamb of God, who died and rose again?”
And then, when she finds it, we sing…
“You have found the lamb of God, the lamb of God, the lamb of God; you have found the lamb of God, who died and rose again.”
She loves this game! It is becoming a long-term Easter memory that is center around Christ. Yes, she will remember that we did Easter egg-hunts (some years) and that we painted eggs and ate candy (sometimes). But Good Friday and Easter Sunday will always be vivid: her memory will be of her family worshiping Jesus. And it was fun! Dramatic Bible tales, adventures of the lamb, and yes, Church! And it was fun!
I still cherish the fond memories of my Aunt’s Easter egg-hunt. I believe that she did a good thing by facilitating family fun. But I do wish I had permanent memories of Christ on Easter. I’ve learned that unless I become intentional about leading my daughter to Christ, the world will win. Unless I make huge distinctions between the world and Christ, the world will win. And if I cannot get it right on Easter, then I probably won’t ever get it right.
You may be thinking, “I turned out okay.” Did you? Or are you just comparing yourself to another secular Christian? Do you have a passionate zeal for Christ and His Word? Do you pursue personal purity and holiness? Do you walk in repentance? Do you actively share the gospel? Or do you just go to Church and read a Bible story once in a while? If you’re the latter, ask yourself, “where did I learn this concept of moderate Christianity?”
There is no guarantee that my daughter will be saved. But I can create a fun and interactive setting for her to learn of Christ while keeping the secular thing separate (to guard against confusion). I can create meaningful holy day memories, full of food, family, and fun; all centered around, and founded on, Christ! This can become a clear channel for the Holy Spirit to awaken her heart, through the gospel, to the glory of Jesus Christ! And you can do it too!
Silly Rabbit, Easter is for Jesus…