We are rather forgetful creatures. In some ways, our forgetfulness is a blessing. Time dulls the sharp pangs of grief and the pettiness of minor wounds. In other respects, our forgetful natures are a curse. We mill about our day, complaining over trivialities or wasting time on banalities while the truly important things lie in the background hoping to catch our attention. Memorials are erected to combat this very failing in ourselves.
In the heart of Washington D.C., a vast array of stone edifices jut out against the skyline to remind Americans of their history. Speeches, names, and dates are indelibly carved into the smooth granite and limestone facings. We gaze in wonder, and our hearts are stirred into remembrance. We are supposed to teach future generations with these grand memorials, and as we teach, we should be reminded of the hefty cost of freedom.
When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan, God told them set up 12 memorial stones:
And [Joshua] said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
~ Joshua 4.21-24, ESV
The Israelites had memorial stones, the Passover Feast (another memorial), and many other reminders of God’s great love and power. In spite of these ever-present tokens, however, they failed to remember. The stones are never mentioned again in scripture. We see no visitation of this place for the purpose of remembering the works of God. The Israelites also took the passover without passing on it’s true meaning to their children. The passover wasn’t just some historical observance. It was a reminder that God set them free because of His steadfast love and power! They failed to pass on the real meaning of the memorial to their children, just as in our country, we have forgotten the intrinsic value of our own memorials.
As Christians, God has set us up as memorial stones. Our lives ought to be a living reminder of Jesus to the world around us. We ought to shine like the limestone in D.C. with the marks of Jesus etched into our every word and deed. Too often, we are not solid stones, but flaky imitations. It’s time for us to present ourselves to God as a good substrate and allow ourselves to be formed into the image of Jesus Christ. Live as though you are the only memorial the world will ever see. Be a solid reminder of the saving power of Jesus.
God established for us our own memorial feast—the Lord’s supper—so we would have a consistent commemoration of the cost of our freedom in Christ. How often do we take that supper with our minds elsewhere? How often do we ritualistically take our bit of bread and forget the precious life that was given for us? How often do we drink from the cup and fail to meditate the copious blood that covers our sins?
Today, as you go about your tasks, take time to remember what Jesus has done for you.
Live each moment with purpose, carrying within your heart the joy of salvation that comes from remembering Jesus.
Be a memorial stone.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
~ 1 Peter 2.4-5, ESV