Don’t Drop the Curtain Too Soon

7 Apr

I hadn’t set out to write a blog about Easter, but I read a few verses in 1 Peter 4 this morning that fired me up. Not about the traditional Easter story. Rather about the part of the story we’ve chopped off.

The 3-act play portrayed
By traditional Easter story, I’m talking about how the story of Jesus has been portrayed in the movies, in Sunday school classes, etc. Writers have followed the three-act play structure. Act 1: Jesus is born, shuttled to Egypt, back to Israel and finally settling in Nazareth. Act 2: Jesus begins His ministry which faces opposition in spite of the mighty miracles He performs. Act 3: Jesus is crucified—His final opposition to overcome, which He does when He is raised from the dead. The story then quickly ends with His ascension to heaven.

Final curtain dropped too soon
Either we have the wrong storyline for the three-act play, or as my wife observed, perhaps it should be a five-act play. You see, we writers are taught that a strong story requires a big goal that the protagonist must overcome obstacles and setbacks to finally achieve, giving audiences or readers the thrill of the victory. Jesus’s big goal was not the resurrection. That was only the means to achieving his big goal: creating and preparing His bride.

Peter wrote, “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen,” (1 Peter 4:7-11, NKJV).

The true big goal
As I read those verses, the three-act play structure fell over it, and all I could say was wow! In our best rendering of the Jesus story, the church is a sequel with its own big goal and obstacles. That’s so wrong. Even Jesus explained the “end of the play” to His disciples. He describes in Matthew 24 the obstacles the church will face when as yet there was no church. There will be natural disasters and persecution. Many will let their love grow cold because of the lawlessness in their hearts. A fierce battle wages to keep Jesus from achieving His big goal of bringing forth His bride. He assures us it will happen.

Setting the final climax
Covid-19 had the potential to bring discouragement and defeat to the believers, but I see the disease has had the opposite effect. An excitement and hope that I’ve not witnessed in a long time is spreading across the nation in the churches. Others are expressing an anticipation for a great revival.

That’s when I reread Peter’s words: “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another….” And could say only, “Wow!”

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