Forever Changed

the-empty-tomb

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6.1-4 ESV

Recently, I watched the historical fiction film, “Risen”, which depicts the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus from the perspective of a Roman centurion. Though there were some errors in the historical narrative, it depicted one thing particularly well: those that encountered Jesus were forever changed.

Early into His ministry, many encountered Jesus and were changed overnight. Not everybody received Him, but those that did could not help but be changed. He gave them purpose and a mission. Though some change was sudden, they were still human. Peter witnessed many miracles and yet he denied Jesus 3 times.

All of the disciples abandoned Jesus in the darkest hour of His ministry, but they did not desert Him for long. Witnessing the resurrection of Jesus impacted them deeply. Seeing the miracles that were performed through them by the Spirit further impacted them, and when spiritual gifts went away, the early Christians continued to grow and be changed as they communed on the first day of the week.

Jesus designed the Communion as a reminder and a renewal for Christians. We remember His ministry, we proclaim His death, we share the awe and wonder of the empty tomb, and we kneel before the risen King. As we encounter Jesus by retelling the story and renewing our minds, we, too, are forever changed.

It’s not enough to be touched by the story of Christ. It must move us to do something about it. Those who are moved by the story of Christ discover that He even lives on in us through His providence. Though God is working mightily in ways we don’t see or hear, He also works mightily through His people, who bear His image to the world (1 Cor. 15.35-49; Hebrews 1.1-3). God’s people are known by their compassion and humility, two traits that are completely unnatural, yet for the Christian, are second nature.

It’s a shocking and sobering thought to imagine you and I are part of God’s providence, but we are. As we are changed, we influence others to change too, through teaching, mentorship, examples, and acts of kindness and service. It seems strange to think that you or I might be the answer to somebody’s prayer.

Are we prepared to steward that kind of responsibility? Whenever we doubt it, remember the Cross. Will my example point people to Christ? Will it cause them to change? If I cannot do that today, maybe reflecting on those things will get me closer tomorrow, and a little closer the next day.

Every day, I must live in such a way that those around me are drawn to sit at the foot of the cross, to join Mary at the empty tomb, to find a place at the Table, to kneel before the Throne, and to join the ranks of Christians bearing the love and the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2.20

Love so amazing–so divine–
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
–Isaac Watts

An excerpt from “Forever Changed, 52 Reasons Why We Commune”, an upcoming meditational book intended to inspire a deeper perspective on the Cross.

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