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Communion Meditations (2019)

 

Strong Grace

Originally scheduled for December 8

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

(2 Timothy 2:1 NASB)

 

As far as I can tell, this is the only place where the word “strong” is in the same sentence with the word “grace”. The verse is seldom quoted. Perhaps the reason for this is that it is somewhat difficult to understand. We don’t understand grace as a source of strength.

·         We understand grace as forgiveness. We know that God forgives his children their sins upon their confession and repentance. Communion is an opportunity for such confession and repentance.

·         We also understand grace as a gift. We know there is nothing we can do that would earn this gift.

·           But strength in grace?

But do recall that Christ once told Paul, “my grace is sufficient for you.” He goes on to say that his strength is made perfect in weakness. Perhaps it is strength we don’t understand.

Consider for a moment the metaphor that Christ gave us when he told us that he is the vine and we are the branches. Permit me an illustration of how His metaphor might teach us more. I have a vine in my backyard, the kind that clings to vertical surfaces, such as my block wall. Consider that vine:

  • Even though it has grown over most of my block wall over the last twenty years or so, the leaves at the farthest end are the same as those at its tap root. So it is with us: the grace that makes us strong does so that we may produce the same fruit at our end as He does at the tap root of the Father.
  • The vine and the root alike share whatever hardships come along. If it rains, both get wet. The leaf at the end has no reason to expect sunshine if the root is rained on. But – if the root is watered, the leaf also prospers. As Christ pours His grace through us (we are but a channel where His grace is poured) we take in his gift; it is fitting, therefore, that we suffer like Him as well.
  • If the leaf is trimmed off, it no longer grows, nor can it render any benefit. It is fit only to be thrown away. If you wish to be strong in the Faith, remain in grace.

Communion is a picture of that kind of grace. From one end to the other it is the same grace being brought to us. The ancient Christian and the modern one, African, Asian or American share the strength of grace given to us in communion. We also share hardships, shown in the suffering of Christ as illustrated in communion. As He suffered, we will suffer too. And if we cease to stay connected with the church, ceased to partake in communion we are disconnected from the vine and die.

 

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