By Jon Wren
Several years ago in Maine, authorities arrested a 47-year-old man after catching him stealing food and supplies from a local camp. Upon investigating, it was discovered the man had a much more complicated and interesting story than originally suspected.
Specifically, authorities learned the man had spent 27 years living in the woods in total seclusion, detached from all human contact. The “North Pond Hermit,” as he was called, sustained himself for almost three decades by breaking into and stealing from local campsites, restaurants, and businesses. His entire existence had centered around isolation and theft.
Can you imagine a life driven solely by the need to take from, and hide from, other people?
Jesus described a very different and much more hopeful reality for our lives. He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
The thief comes to take and destroy, but Jesus came to give. Jesus offers life in abundance to everyone. The enemy offers a life of fear, isolation, and shame, where we are pitted against one another and drift inexorably apart. Jesus, on the other hand, offers a life of generosity and provision, and coming together in community. Jesus offers the promise of love and the assurance of forgiveness.
In many ways, these promises are among the most powerful and encouraging reasons to celebrate Communion. It reminds us God’s hope and promise for us is an abundant life in community, friendship, and love. The thief desires for us to see others as competition, or obstacles, or as people we can use to get what we want. But we can choose to focus on serving a loving, kind, and generous God whose sacrifice on the cross provides us with grace and mercy. And, in turn, we can offer that same gift to others.
Jon Wren is a pastor, speaker, and author who loves history, college football, and once got a ticket for driving too slowly.