When I was four years old, ABC Family aired a new claymation film known as “The Miracle Maker.” The film depicts the powerful true story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. My soul sings for the King every time he triumphantly enters Jerusalem, yearns for Judas every time he betrays his master, cries out when it sees my Savior dying for my transgressions and rejoices each time Mary sees the resurrected Jesus Christ with her own eyes.
When I think of Easter, I think of Jesus cleansing sinners from their sin. A common metaphor heard is “wiping the slate clean.” But recently, I’ve learned that the hope of Easter is more than Jesus cleansing us from our sins. At a recent college morning group gathering at Church of the Saviour the group leader handed out a chart focusing on the Gospel as seen through the angles of guilt, shame and fear. This chart was inspired by Jayson Georges’ book “The 3D Gospel.” These three angles of the Gospel appeal to various cultures around the world and bring about a wholeness to God’s Word when they are placed together.
The angle of guilt addresses God as a judge. It shows the first sin as the first breaking of God’s law. This shows salvation as receiving Jesus as your personal savior and acknowledging that through Him your sins are forgiven. The angle of shame addresses God as a father and patron. Here, the first sin is the first sign of dishonoring one’s patron and being cast out from a family. Salvation comes through allegiance with Jesus in order to re-enter God’s family. The third angle, fear, addresses God as the divine ruler and deliverer. The first sin is an act of insubordination, which led to death and vulnerability. Salvation is knowing Jesus to access his divine power. As a generality, the angle of guilt appeals mainly to European cultures, shame appeals to Asian cultures and fear resonates with audiences in the Middle East and Africa. All three angles are true, and all need to be acknowledged, in order to fully understand the good news of salvation.
I have seen countless examples of one of these angles maintaining precedence in a church. When I hear sermons about Jesus healing the guilty lame man by forgiving his sins and commanding him to get up and walk, I do not hear why it is important we acknowledge Jesus forgiving sins. Most of the time, the congregation knows why it is important for Jesus to forgive sins, because we know and recite that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV). When we hear a sermon about Jesus healing a man inflicted with leprosy, the pastor will often take time to explain the historical significance behind Jesus, a clean man, touching a leper, a shameful, unclean sinner. We also take time to explain the magnificence of God’s power and Jesus’ miracles, as most of us in the church have grown too accustomed to hearing these stories.
After hearing this angle of the gospel, my eyes opened up to a new perspective on Easter. The Bible’s message of salvation and the hope of Easter is not just written for one generation. It’s not even for one culture. Its inerrant words universally impact people across our world. With this in mind, I look forward to partaking in my favorite Easter tradition, but now with a new perspective.