My column in today’s Greenville News.  Happy Easter!

My wife and I often text one another. Especially when we’re far apart, and both simultaneously in meetings or otherwise occupied, a text is a sweet intimacy.  A word sent to remind us that we are still there, still a team, across time and space.

Sometimes, my texting is pretty funny. It’s not uncommon for ‘I love you’ to become ‘I loathe you,’ thanks to auto-correct.  (To be immediately followed by apology and correction.) ‘I lobe you’ doesn’t make much sense; maybe it’s a subtle way of saying that I’m thinking about her in my inadequate frontal lobe.  But the one that seemed to happen more than all the others (until I changed phones) was this:  ‘I live you!’

Although at first I found this as frustrating as all the other slips of finger, I soon realized that therein was a profound truth.  In a culture that maligns and abuses the word love at every, possible turn, to say ‘I live you’ is perhaps the closest to the truth of my emotions.

A mother or father says to a child, with every act of care, every touch, every hug, every hour worked to support them, every homework assignment assisted, every personal comfort deferred, every meal and snotty nose, ‘I live you.’  That is, ‘I will be with you every step of the way.  I am by your side.  I am demonstrating my love in our life together.’

A husband or wife says much the same. The vows we take make it clear.  ‘For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do we part, forsaking all others…I live you.’  It means that ‘I make my life with you.  As you rise I rise, as you fall I fall, as you are dishonored or honored I am and as you struggle I will struggle along your side.  And when you leave this world, I will be with you, or you with me, to the end.’

To love another is to ‘live them.’  On the other hand, can a good parent say ‘I love you,’ but be intentionally separate from their child who is suffering?  Can they live in splendor while their child starves?  Or can a loving husband say to his wife, ‘I love you, but I’ll be living with this other woman…good luck, and remember I care.’  No, to love, again, is to live.

And so it is with Easter.  During Easter, God says to humanity, ‘I live you.’  And proves it in the incarnation of the Christ.  Jesus lives humanity.  The Gospels are breathtaking, as we see him live in their poverty, walk in their sickness, heal their children, raise their dead, comfort their minds, forgive their sins and take away their guilt.  Jesus lives his followers for his brief earthly ministry, sharing common meals and simple homes, sharing work and dusty roads, and sharing (and initiating) their dreams of a new kingdom on earth.  The love with which he lived echoed through the early church, as the ancients who watched these strange new believers were commonly sticken by their unusual love for one another.

However, for Jesus, like parent, lover or spouse, to ‘live them,’ to share their every experience, meant also to ‘die them.’ That is, to die as they all, we all, will.  He said it himself, ‘Greater love has no man than this, that he should lay down his life for his friend.’  He could hardly have been said to live with them, to share their world, had he not intentionally died as they did; and not peacefully, but horribly, as if to demonstrate to those he ‘lived’ that even the worst death was something he would share.

But that was not the end.  He ‘lived them, died them and lived them again.’  His death was one more way to give life.  This Sunday, this Easter, this most glorious and hopeful day in Christendom, we celebrate the fact that Jesus ‘lived us’ so much that death could not contain him and that in ‘dying us,’ dying to end death and sin and guilt, he made a way for us to ‘live him’ and be in his presence, to become more and more like him, in this life and forever.

When the sun rises on Easter, when we recall the vicious death in counter-point to the empty tomb, our text message from Jesus arrives with stunning joy and surprise.

‘I live you, now and always!’  It is no error.

He is risen indeed.





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