This Lent I've followed a devotional reading plan by N. T. Wright called "Lent for Everyone." My church is non-liturgical, and we usually don't focus much on the days leading up to Easter, but this devotional reading plan has reminded me just how important Easter is.
Three things have especially stood out to me:
1) God's overwhelming, incomprehensible love. It's common to focus on God's love shown through the cross, but I'm overwhelmed by the love Jesus showed in his life before the cross. It's only in the context of this everyday love that it's understandable that Jesus would endure Good Friday.
2) The amazing power available to us. I recently came across Ephesians 1:18–21 again, and I can't get over this: "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know . . . his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead" (emphasis mine). When we seek to become Christlike, we don't do it on our own; we do it in God's power. Do your group members know they have this power available to them?
3) Jesus' mission. During his time on earth, Jesus talked a lot about the kingdom of God. And he completely flipped the societal norms with his teachings. The kingdom wasn't just something that was coming—it was something his followers were to help usher in. Plus, Jesus invited others to join in the mission, to join in kingdom living. As we live out kingdom values, we continue that mission. And we, too, have the amazing privilege of inviting others to join in—especially through small groups.
Small groups have the opportunity to lean into these three things: to experience and show the world God's love, to change from the inside out by depending on God's power, and to continue Jesus' mission by living out kingdom values and inviting others into kingdom living.
Make Jesus' life, death, and resurrection central to your faith. Soak up his love, lean into his power, and continue his mission—and model this to your group members. Celebrate Easter every day.
This prayer, from the devotional reading plan, perfectly sums up what I've learned this Lent:
Humble Lord Jesus, as you reach out to us in your gentle love, help us to find the way to bring your kingdom in our own day.