When it comes to participating in religious traditions, I often struggle to “feel the right things.” I’m not much of a feeler by nature. My faith is a solid framework through which to view the world as much as anything else. It’s how reality makes sense to me, and it may or may not always invoke strong emotions, for better or worse. Yet, I still seek to appreciate the liturgical traditions which have been celebrated by my brothers and sisters through the ages. If countless others have found the practices valuable, I would feel like somewhat of a fool to dismiss them wholesale.
It is from this frame of reference that I went to a Good Friday service tonight. It wasn’t liturgical in the exact sense of the word, but it was an observance of the Christian calendar nonetheless. While sitting in the audience, attempting to focus my thoughts and feel the appropriate response to the sacrifice of Jesus, something the leader said struck me. He asked us to reflect on how we had given up hope. That was when it hit me.
This Good Friday in particular found me in a place where I honestly had begun to give up hope that the Kingdom of God would come on earth as it is in Heaven. Events of the week had left me feeling as if evil had prevailed, that it would have the last word. I had a small taste of what Jesus’s followers must have felt that night after seeing him brutally killed and buried. The principalities and powers had won. Humanity had seen the beauty of Jesus yet rejected his lordship, abhorred his teachings, and despised his perfection. His flawless nature so enraged them that they not only plotted his murder, but ensured a torturous and humiliating death. Is this not the story of our world today? Is this not only the story of those who vocally hate Christ, but also all of us who throw him to the mob so we can do as we please? As soon as I see the glaring brokenness in the world which seeks to extinguish the True Light, I am reminded of my own contributions to the fallen state in which we live. It seems hopeless. How can the Kingdom ever come and redeem it all?
If this truly were the end, there would be no reason to hope. Evil would have triumphed and guaranteed the downward spiral of man into destruction. But we have the benefit of knowing that it’s not the end of the story. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. Though darkness may gain ground in cultures, governments, and nations, the Kingdom of Heaven is forcefully advancing. Though some led astray by the enemy may seethe with hatred at what is pure, we need not fear those who can destroy the body. One day all things will be made right, all things will be made new, and we are to bear witness to this coming truth.
So this Good Friday I’m reminded that no matter what victories evil may claim in a week, or a year, or a lifetime, the redemption of all things is assured. The price is paid, Sunday is coming, and that changes everything.