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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pennies

Switching gears today.  And once again, no pictures.  Sorry, I'm working on it.

I wanted to share a communion thought I gave a few weeks back, for reasons that will become apparent later.

If you're not familiar, it's customary in the Churches of Christ, as it is in other evangelical Christian groups, for someone to stand up and give a few brief thoughts before the taking of the communion, or Lord's Supper, which we participate in weekly (for background, see the events of Matthew 26, especially verses 26-27 and also Acts 20:7).  Some guys bail on the devotional and give quick prayers of blessing, and some wordy ones forget that they're not the preacher and drone on forever.  Everyone else is in the middle somewhere.

For me, it can be the most revelatory and interesting part of the service, since you hear what the average Joe thinks about his salvation.  About Christ.  About God.  At times it's hilariously strange.  Sometimes it's profoundly moving.

People approach the communion service in many ways.  In the quiet spaces, some read their Bibles to maintain focus.  They go to the messianic Psalms, or to Isaiah, or they read the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion.  They close their eyes and pray.  They meditate on Jesus Christ himself, or on the very idea of his mission.  Still others just sit there and try to make sense of what exactly happened, and why.

I'm probably in the latter group.  And I get into ruts with my thinking, turning the same idea over in my head week after week.  My most recent rut, running through even last Sunday, has been to simply thank G0d for my family's salvation.  For my own salvation.  For Majesty's salvation in Christ.  For the opportunity to teach Jacques about Jesus as he grows.

Sometimes, when I've had my coffee, and I'm really feeling high-minded, I'll actually thank God for saving those in my church family, or even those across the world, that are acting out roughly the same thing we're doing right here in The New Town.

But I think I've missed the larger point.  Christ didn't give his life for just my family.  He didn't give his life just for those in the same church building I'm in.  And he didn't die for only those seeking to do his will right now, in this moment.  His mission was to provide salvation for all those that have ever lived.  For all those living now.  And for all those that will ever live.  Everyone.  Everywhere.  Ever.  Will all those take hold of it?  Sadly, no.  But his mission stands, nonetheless.

It was widely reported a while back that world population will pass 7 billion this year.  That's a whole lot of people.  And, by extension, that's a whole lot of sin.  It got me wondering, do we have an idea of how many people that have ever lived, total?  One demographer I found had calculated the number at just over 100 billion people, all-time.  That's 100,000,000,000.  Now, straight up, I have no idea whether that figure is even in the ballpark.  But assume for a moment that it is.

When people start throwing around billions and hundreds of billions and trillions, my eyes glaze over pretty quickly.  The reason is simple:  numbers that large are almost impossible to imagine.  They don't even seem real.  And I like concrete, real visualizations.  Like pennies.  You know what a penny looks like, right?  You've got them in your pockets, your desk drawers, and in the ashtray - sorry - coin tray of your car.  They're about 1/16th of an inch thick.

So back to our 100 billion people.  If you took 100 billion pennies, and stacked them up right in front of you, the stack would be just shy of 100 thousand miles high.  That's not quite halfway to the moon.  Each penny a person.  Each person a soul.  Each soul in desperate need of salvation.

This speaks not only to the breadth of Christ's sacrifice but to its absolute, extreme power.  Think about how much sin and unrighteousness and lawlessness 100 billion people could crank out.  Heck, I can hold my own just by myself.  Unfortunately, you can, too.

It's wonderful to boil salvation right down to what it does for you and yours.  Salvation can be, and indeed is, near to us all.  That's kind of the point.  But when we fail to think in larger terms, much larger terms, we're underestimating exactly what we are, and what we're a part of:  An eyedropper full in a vast ocean.

3 comments:

Courtney Squillante said...

Love this post! We sure miss you guys at MCofC!!

El Comodoro said...

Hey thanks, Courtney. Miss all of y'all, too. Hope things are well.

Morgan said...

Great post, Morgan.