By Stuart Powell
Have you noticed the prevalence of sorrow-filled information that surrounds us? The daily news is laden with violence, and much popular entertainment is dark. Many of our words, even in church, are glum . . . almost heartbreaking. Most of our prayers are petitions for the sick and pleas for God to comfort those who have endured loss. Bible studies and sermons highlight the risks we face from cultural evils.
This shouldn’t surprise us, for the brokenness of sin warps the human mind. The effects of sin direct our focus to violence and death. Our culture seems obsessed with evil. Even when we share in the Lord’s Supper, our thoughts seldom linger on the fruit of Jesus’ passion. Instead, we often wallow in the ugliness of our collective sin which led our Savior to that cruel death.
Why not adopt a new approach? When we gather for Communion, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to guide our meditations. Especially at Easter, the Spirit reminds us that the pain of Good Friday is overshadowed by the jubilation of Resurrection Sunday. He reminds us that Jesus transformed the curse of the cross into the hope of eternal life. Let’s rejoice that the desperation of the grave was redeemed into an expectation of eternal life through the resurrection. The blood of Jesus was not just the necessary means to forgive all our sins, but also the process God used to re-create every believer as holy and justified.
Paul, writing from a Roman prison, challenged the Philippian believers to saturate their thinking with eight facets of God’s good news:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things (Philippians 4:8, New English Translation).
Jesus’ sacrifice was not a necessary evil. The message of grace is more than good news. The gospel is true, respectable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. God’s grace is all the things upon which Paul encouraged the Philippian believers to meditate.
Our participation in the loaf and the cup to remember the body and blood of Jesus’ sacrifice should fill us with hope, joy, and a longing for the completion of God’s plan. This celebration should fill us with passion to boldly share the message of Jesus’ grace with everyone we meet.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.