Feels good to have the power back on, doesn’t it?
Your elation may be different than the one I’m about to share, but this scene in front of our family refrigerator may help you remember the joy you experienced when power returned after the April 19th heavyweight snowstorm wreaked mayhem across the county.
“Hey, guys!” My nine-year-old cheered. “The light in the refrigerator is on! And the milk! It’s cold! It’s really, really cold!”
Many things can be said about the widespread, long-lasting power outage, but first let’s thank the crews who tirelessly worked to restore what we all wanted—power.
It’s true. We want power.
Our want for power (and comfort) is an underlying theme in both the gospel reading and the epistle lesson for this past Sunday, April 24th. Both John 20 and Acts 5 speak to our human nature of wanting to call the shots and having it our way. In John 20, the disciple Thomas wants to see—and understand—the risen Christ on his terms with his criteria. He seeks power on his terms.
In Acts 5, the apostles have been commissioned to share the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ yet meet opposition. The power problem they experience is one where they don’t have any! They are at the whim of the religious powermongers of the day. These religious leaders have thrown Jesus’ elite into a public jail because these upstart, marginalized preachers and their liberating messages of eternal life through the Son of God are not kosher with The Establishment.
These are parallel stories of the haves-nots in the face of the haves.
We can relate. We did not have power. We wanted power. Specifically, we wanted power back.
A strong Easter message rises here. As we move further into this new Christian season of Spring and a redeemed life made available to us not by our power but Jesus’, let’s be reminded of what Thomas and his peers experienced—the risen Christ among them. These once frightened and now faithful followers didn’t just experience their leader and friend who had moved from death-to-life out of his love for them; they shared his death-to-life love not to some but to all of us. Think about it. Their ministry directly impacts our ministry moments today.
We can experience Jesus’ power today when we realize this humble truth: we don’t have power. Everything we do—everything we say—isn’t our doing. It isn’t our power. It’s Christ’s.
A great story illustrates this. A remarkable Christian Education director was stymied. She was really stuck. Had her back been up against a wall she might have considered that a good thing. (At least it would have held her up.) But she didn’t even have a wall.
She came to me with a low, quiet voice, a voice that revealed to both of us that she knew who she was. With a voice of half resignation and half frustration, she said what we all need to hear as Easter lives in us. “I don’t have it. This has to all be God.”
You likely know how the next page in this story goes. God did have it. And God took it. And God ran with it.
And it was good.
Power outages? Yes, hello, we want to be comfortable. When sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, we also want to experience more success and far less strain. I get it. We all get it! But let’s get what Jesus is saying when we don’t have power. In my heart (and perhaps in yours, too), you have heard Jesus share these words. “I have you. I have this. Don’t trust yourself. Trust me.”
Cold milk in a refrigerator is a good thing. Having a Savior with all the power? Well, now, that’s a bazillion times better, isn’t it?