I was talking to a young man who grew up in a Methodist Church (not Girard). I was taken back by something he said.
I had preached about how following Jesus was different than following a religion. Religion is about following rules, but following Christ is about a relationship. This relationship is one granted to us by faith. We can't work our way to it. It's not about being a good person or getting enough 'points' to earn our way to God. This is a huge distinction between a religion and a relationship.
And then he said this:
I've been going to church my entire life and I never heard that before.
Wow. Seriously? Even if he only went on Christmas and Easter, still in his 35 years he should have heard something about salvation coming by grace through trust in God. Certainly someone would have pointed out that this is the unique message of Christ against the backdrop of every religion (including what is preached as Christianity sometimes).
So in all of your celebrations, hunting for Easter eggs, dinners and family pictures, don't forget the most important stuff...
The life, death, and resurrection of Christ IS our hope.
The stained glass, music, good deeds, giving to missions, working in the Sunday School class, are all great things. But they only serve to communicate the most important thing.
We have peace with God because of Jesus. If we trust him to bridge the divide, then it is so, by His grace.
Everything else springs from that. Thanks be to God. We are truly free.