14 February 2010
Christ is our Passover, and in the supper we eat and drink the ultimate Passover feast. Or maybe not quite the ultimate. One of the lessons of Passover, and of the Supper, is that we are pilgrims in this world. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to be a pilgrim.
If we think of ourselves as pilgrims in space—now we’re here on earth, but we’re on our way to our home in heaven—then we will behave like rats on a sinking ship. That is, we won’t care at all about the ship. But this is exactly the wrong lesson.
You see, we are pilgrims in time. Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world.* We wait for the coming of Christ’s kingdom, and then what a feast we will have—the Lord’s Table, with Christ himself drinking the cup with us in His Father’s kingdom. That kingdom will not be in a far-off heaven, but right here on earth—the very same earth we are commanded to cultivate and protect.
Therefore, we live not as pilgrims who are going away, but as pilgrims who are waiting for this world to be turned into our home. And this is the good news that we carry out to our neighbors: this world is passing away, and its lusts. Stand apart from it, and seek the Kingdom of God. Christ died for us so that we need not fall in love with the temporary; He has freed us to seek a home in His eternal Kingdom.
*I am indebted to N. T. Wright for this lovely turn of phrase.
24 January 2010
Last week, we saw that the Corinthians had permitted their actual practice of the Supper to become a way of reinforcing divisions in the Body of Christ. For this, many of them were weak and sickly, and some of them were killed. This week I’m offering you a similar warning, not about the practice of the Supper, but about our understanding of what is happening in the Supper.
God requires us to believe His word, and sanctified imagination is absolutely necessary to faith. But there are temptations here that we must avoid. When you allow your imagination to carry you so far that in doctrine or in practice, you are contradicting Scripture, you have gone too far. Even if you don’t do that, if you allow your particular way of imagining the thing to become a point of contention so that the argument divides the body, you have sinned.
There is a parallel temptation in the other direction: the temptation to say “It’s all a mystery” and then ignore the things the Scripture does say. You must subject yourself to the discipline of the Scripture; you must believe what it says, not cultivate a sort of devotional ignorance.
And so the charge is this: Submit to the Scripture. All of it, straight up the middle, with no fancy footwork. Whatever the Bible teaches you to believe and do, make it a part of you. Let your sanctified imagination roam free on the mountains of the Bible—but stay within the limits that the Bible prescribes for you. Sanctified imagination is only sanctified so long as it is obedient.