By Jon Wren
One Sunday in Texas, when legendary General Sam Houston attended a service at a small country church, he decided to place his faith in Christ. After the service, the pastor and congregation walked with Houston to a nearby creek for his baptism. As the pastor led Houston into the water, the church began to sing a hymn to thank God for his mercy.
After the song, the pastor took Houston’s confession, then leaned him into the water and back out again, baptizing the general into Christ. As the crowd began to clap and cheer, the pastor proclaimed, “Well, General, now all your sins have been washed away.” To which Houston replied, “Oh Lord, help the fish!”
Houston’s response, while mostly in good humor, makes a point. When we place our faith in Christ, our sins don’t just disappear, they go somewhere. To be more specific, our sins go to someone: Jesus Christ. Sin is a deadly serious problem that can’t be ignored or easily written off. It must be dealt with, and Christ’s work at the cross is the only way.
At Communion, we have an opportunity to remember the severity of the cost of our sin. Communion shouldn’t make us feel guilty or ashamed; it should remind us that the price of our redemption was not cheap, easy, or painless. It came at a cost only Jesus could pay. The prophet Isaiah described it like this:
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5, 6).
Let us remember together that our forgiveness is complete, our hope is secure, and our sins have been paid for—but only through Jesus Christ.
Jon Wren works with the Office of Civil Rights, addressing the impact of gentrification on school desegregation. He loves history and college football, and he once got a ticket for driving too slow.