By Stuart Powell
Testifying to Jesus’ influence on our lives is an important part of the Christian faith. As we grow in our faith, we should have more to say about Jesus. His influence first affects our attitudes about living. Jesus replaces our impure inner desires by teaching us to live holy.
When we grant the Holy Spirit permission, he also changes how we view other people. Jesus’ influence eventually enables us to sacrificially love those whom we formerly opposed. God teaches us to welcome all who are different. He leads us to fast for those who abuse us.
Jesus’ influence also redefines our priorities. Events that are highly esteemed by the world lose their luster. Believers gravitate toward simpler expressions of faith: living with thankfulness to God, finding joy in every situation, and participating in the ancient rituals of baptism and Communion. Jesus wants these radical transformations to be on display for all the world to see.
Why does Jesus want to change us so dramatically? In Jesus’ pastoral prayer in John 17, he explains that his desire for remaking our lives is so we can tell others about the changes he has made in us.
“I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me” (John 17:20, 21, New English Translation).
People notice when we are not motivated to satisfy the appetites of this world. They notice when unconventional combinations of people gather, in harmony, to worship God. They look on in wonder when former enemies share food and drink at a common table.
The power of the Lord’s table is most clearly evident in the times of greatest turmoil around the church. When we partake together, we see a clear display of the unity for which Jesus prayed. When every disciple partakes of the same emblems of Communion, it testifies to the single body of Christ. When the world sees unity among a diversity of believers, there will be a growing longing to seek its source.
As we partake of the bread and the cup, remember that our participation in this table is part of our testimony of Jesus’ redemptive power at work in our lives. This practice is a witness to the world that Jesus is real.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.