1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Analysis by Nathan C. Hall
23For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Jesus invites us to eat and drink, to consume a resource that cannot be exhausted, to find satisfaction receiving God’s grace, given to us in the bread and wine.
Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem): Consumerism
Gluttony is a besetting sin, no surprise. We are cajoled by advertisements and pressured by social standards. What would the neighbors think if you drove a trashy old car? Yikes. Don’t you deserve the house of your dreams? What have you bought today? This week? This month?
Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem): Consumption
Sure, the planet cannot support unbridled consumption, but nevertheless we are curved in on ourselves. We handily tuck the thought of the world’s annihilation into the recesses of our minds and carry on in our car-dependent communities, buying products shipped from all over the world. Perhaps our momentary qualms are placated by the dream of a bright-green future where we keep consuming the earth’s non-renewable resources, but in a way that is less toxic. In short, we are selfish. We only care about the well-being of ourselves.
Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem): Consumed
Deep down, we know it cannot last. Our consumption will catch up to us one day. The earth will continue to warm. The wealthy may escape for a while. We certainly are living in a culture of death. So far as I can tell, we have it coming, and it seems to me far-fetched to believe that God will save us to consume another day. God, who commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, will certainly agree that our selfish lives cannot continue. They must end. Our whole way of life is unholy.
Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution): Newly Created
Yet, God loves unholy people. God longs for them to be well. As a mother hen gathers her chicks, so God longs to gather us. And so, Christ takes our sin on the cross. Yes, Jesus died for greedy little you because there is a new creation to be made. “This is my body, given for you… This is the new covenant in my blood.” It is for you. It is for us that Jesus came. As you eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood, you are filled with God’s life.
Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution): Eating and Drinking
And Jesus invites us to eat and drink, to consume a resource that cannot be exhausted, to find satisfaction receiving God’s grace, given to us in the bread and wine. The old void that consumerism sought to fill actually is filled. There is peace. There is contentment. We proclaim the Lord’s death knowing that death is not the end of the story, but that Christ will come again.
Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution): Community
We, the community of those gathered around Christ’s table, are those whose lives have been claimed. We proclaim the Lord’s death. This, topsy-turvily, is actually the beginning of real life. We belong to each other now. We belong to this world. Hopefully, we might even be able to escape a little bit of the consuming madness that surrounds us while we wait for Jesus to come.