You Belong to You: An Easter Message

Some of us grew up with the understanding that we were sinners, and fallen, and broken, and in need of salvation. Before we could even investigate the accuracy of this teaching, the solution to the problem was placed before us in the form of an atoning blood sacrifice made by a man named Jesus. The violent death (conveyed to us as children via flannelgraphs and picture Bibles) that should have been our own punishment fell on him instead.

It required only a decision from us—barely a decision, just an acquiescence to a gift "freely given." With dire urgency, we were offered exactly one way out of our alleged brokenness, our sin, our fallen state: just say yes to Jesus. For me, all this happened by the age of 5.

Here's the thing about that:

The decision you made to accept Jesus into your heart was made under extreme duress. You were held hostage by a religious order that was highly invested in keeping you in its ranks. You were denied access to relevant information. You were denied adequate time to properly observe your own life and the religious system into which you had been born. And fear was the primary tactic used to coerce you into making the salvation decision.

Friend, this is not salvation. Nor is it freely given, in any sense of the word.

The cost has been great violence to your spirit. Deep trauma. Oppression, forced submission, conditional belonging. What is presented as redemption is actually anything but—t is spiritual abuse and forced servitude.

Easter rolls around, and with it the glorification of a Jewish man's horrific execution by the Roman state 2,000 years ago. A message to all that 1) you need a savior, and 2) here he is: a bloody, broken body nailed to a cross, slowly suffocating to death.

There are many who will make the case that none of this is what Jesus had in mind. I think they are right: it feels true that Jesus' intention was never to own you, to purchase you with a literal sacrifice of his own body. But even if this is true, the damage has been done. You are already a victim of the trauma.

This is simply my own belief, but I offer it as an option to you. I think the work of Jesus was largely centered around unburdening people from their trauma. Helping them find freedom from oppression. Liberating folks held hostage by bad systems and religious orders.

I believe Jesus would look at us today and ask that we, too, unburden ourselves from the systems and orders that have traumatized us. Even—especially—if it is his name that has been used to do violence to us.

If salvation through Christ feels like oppression to you, perhaps it is time to give it up.

Leave Jesus. Rescind your acceptance of his gift. You have more information now. You've had the time to observe your own life and the religious order into which you were born. You are able to discern when fear is being used as a weapon of violence to coerce you into making a decision under duress.

You can choose to revoke your acceptance of the salvation gift. You can rescind the consent you once gave under duress. You can reclaim ownership of your own being. You belong to you.

This is an option available to you. It is fraught, it can be difficult in many ways, it can feel like a betrayal or a loss or a heresy, but in the end it is really just a choice you make.

Many do go on to accept a better version of Jesus than the one we were offered as children. In this better Jesus, they find freedom, hope, and deeper love for other people. That is wonderful.

It is also true that not all of us can accept a better Jesus, nor do all of us need to. Some of us find our truest liberation in letting Jesus go. And, for what it's worth, I believe his ego can handle not being everyone's savior.

You can choose to revoke your acceptance of the salvation gift. You can rescind the consent you once gave under duress. You can reclaim ownership of your own being. You belong to you.

Happy Easter.

—Matthew Blake

Matthew Blake