If you’ve been at church very long at all, it’s a familiar refrain.
“It’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming!”
Fortunately someone pressed “record” when S.M. Lockridge launched into his Easter encouragement. If you’ve never heard of it, here it is. It is really, really, powerful. Worth three minutes of your time here on Good Friday, for sure.
It’s so familiar to the Christian subculture in America that we’ve forgotten one truth embedded in the powerful words of the pastor from San Diego — it’s still Friday.
I don’t mean to be a downer this weekend. It’s Easter and all. We gather as believers and celebrate a risen Savior. The resurrection brings hope to all who name Jesus their Lord and Savior. We all have a resurrection to look forward to. Because Jesus defeated death, so too will we. Our future is secure. We have hope beyond this life. Sin has no mastery over us. Satan is not our King, Jesus is. Sunday is coming indeed.
But it’s still Friday.
This past week, suicide bombers exploded their hatred through a crowded airport and metro station. A 19 year old boy was gunned down outside my buddy’s house in the inner city. Marriages are in shambles all over the world. Cancer hospitals are packed full of patients. Greed has run amok. Pastors in India leave their homes to preach at the threat of their lives. Storms, the winter and summer kind, are a routine tragedy. Proxy wars between nations are being fought in other nations. Refugees are spilling out of their homeland in record numbers. A young man died in my home town in a logging accident, leaving a wife and four kids. Suffering is real. People are broken. People are hurting. People are weak. People are selfish.
It’s not Sunday yet. It’s Friday.
Even this Sunday, when we gather and sing and hunt eggs and eat ham, even on Sunday it’ll be Friday. Jesus’ suffering was greater than mankind’s — what with bearing the burden of human history’s sin and all — but it was indeed shorter.
It’s been Friday for a long time. We know Sunday is coming, but it’s not this Sunday.
We long to be restored to the proper order of things. Easter is a glimmer of that reality we await. We crave sincere fellowship with Jesus. We want our glorified bodies — for no sin, for tears to be wiped away, for no death. But the day after Easter, we’re reminded of the reality in which we live. It’s not a Sunday reality. It’s a Friday reality.
We know that death has no mastery over us, but we all still die. We bury our loved ones in the ground. We may say it’s not goodbye, but “see you later,” but our broken hearts at least feel a goodbye in there somewhere. It doesn’t feel like a Sunday, all this heartache and trouble we endure.
It feels like a Friday.
That millions of human babies are exterminated before they ever get the chance to inhale — that’s Friday stuff.
That extremists behead people because they love Jesus — that’s Friday stuff.
That men walk away from their family out of selfishness — that’s Friday stuff.
That people are dying in the streets from starvation and exposure to the elements — that’s Friday stuff.
That people are addicted and die in a crumpled mess of their own brokenness — that’s Friday stuff.
We may be The People of Sunday, but we live in a Culture of Friday, and we’re going to live in it for a little bit longer. Sunday may be coming, but it’s impossible to ignore this truth.
It’s still Friday.
Before we sing our hallelujah we must participate in this dirge. Or, better put, we must figure out how to sing hallelujah in the midst of the dirge where we live. Suffering is often talked about by Christians as something Jesus removes from us so we can be closer to Him.
What if suffering is what draws us closer? As one of my friends put it, perhaps suffering should be “played like an instrument of praise.” Maybe suffering shouldn’t be avoided, but embraced.
I don’t know what S.M. Lockridge would say about all this, and I’m not attempting to critique his conclusions. I agree that Sunday is coming, I just think we speed past Friday faster than we ought to. What if participating in all this suffering is how we really get to understand Jesus? What if instead of trying to avoid suffering we embrace it as the fire that refines us into who God wants us to be?
This is Good Friday. It’s a great thing to meditate on the death of Jesus and how it effects your life. But don’t simplify his sacrifice as a way you can be forgiven. It was also meant to model how we are to live. He himself said it plainly:
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Jesus has overcome the world. We, too, will overcome. Our future is certain. But we don’t live in the future. We don’t live on Sunday, but in the hope that there will be one. Satan may be bound, but he’s still a dog on a chain barking and biting and making himself known. His effect is not absent…not yet. There’s still death and discord and division and drama.
It’s still Friday. That means trouble. Overcoming, yes, but first more trouble.
So remember this Good Friday that you haven’t been called to simply bow in worship before the cross. You’ve been called to pick one up, too. Suffering plays a part in the life of a Christian, and it’s time we stopped trying to avoid it.
It may well be that in doing so we’re missing the point altogether.