Sunday, May 17, 2009

The gospel: How did Christ want us to think of him?

So now, 2000 years after Christ, how do we think of him during his absence? Great moral teacher? No doubt. Once and future king? Maranatha, come, Lord Jesus. Example beyond all others? Yes, that too, I suppose. The last thing I want to do is suggest a limit to how we think of Christ. But Christ himself set a direction for how we are to think of him until he comes. Knowing he was going to be absent for a long time, he knew how he wanted his people to think of him in his absence.
In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying "Take and eat. This is my body, given for you. Do this to remember me."

In the same way after supper he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to all of them saying, "Take and drink, all of you. This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, to remember me."
I believe that, in doing this, Christ meant to frame for us how we think of him through this long stretch of time. He specified how we are to remember him -- how we should think of him in his absence. In telling us how to remember him, he framed how we should understand him, why he came, what he was doing.

He has no wish to be reduced to an abstract -- a teacher, an example, a king. He remains flesh and blood. He does not wish us to think of him first and foremost in terms of what we do, whether learning or obeying or following. He wishes us to remember him as a gift, given for us, poured out for us. We are to raise the cup and celebrate forgiveness in Christ. We are to remember him in all his humanity first and foremost as a gift, as forgiveness, as life-giving, as our very food and drink. Anything we do for "religion", it must begin with remembering him in all his earthy reality, because that is how he asked us to remember him.

Our hunger for God cannot be satisfied by the abstracts that we construct, or the theologies that we build, or our observances and devotion and study, any more than our physical hunger could be satisfied by reading nutrition labels and studying recipes. Our hunger for God can only be satisfied by God. It is not the kind of hunger than can be satisfied by thinking about God, or by taking God for our example, or by learning from God and obeying God; of course we do these things, but by themselves they are frustratingly empty. The only way to satisfy our hunger for God is by having God. That is what Christ has us remember: Christ given for us, God with us.


Howard said...

It is the immediacy, the directness, the tangibility of Christ to us, to our deepest need to feed on the life from our Creator and Redeemer, which makes Him truly ours.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hey Howard. Thanks for stopping by & the encouraging words.

Take care & God bless

Martin LaBar said...

"He remains flesh and blood." Again, good insight.