Dying to live

1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Death means to separate. But, in Christ, it cannot.

The supposed finality of dying draws life to an end. And yet, it begins a new living. That applies to our life away from the body and home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). It also says something about the days we live on earth. After all, eternal life doesn’t begin at our death date. If it did it wouldn’t be eternal. Rather, eternal life includes today and all your yesterdays.

In Christ, we have faith enough to die to ourselves so that we no longer live but Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). What a paradox! We live by dying.

Do we emphasize that enough? I’m not sure all the “your best life” attitudes and coaching make room for that. Those talk much about filling not emptying yourself. No, I don’t mean to suggest life must be boring or dismal. If you know me, you know better.

But we do need to be comfortable with talking about dying. Again, related both to this life and the life to come. I know we Easter people celebrate the empty tomb. We also recognize death as a part of that story. There’s no getting away from it. How do we have a tomb at all if we don’t have a cross?

Part of our worship proclaims the death of Jesus. That’s according to the apostle Paul. Speaking of the Lord’s Supper, he said so to a divided Corinthian congregation. There was no commending their practice of the Lord’s supper. To best understand Paul’s alarm, most of us have to remove the rituals we know. Christians didn’t attend a service. They gathered to break bread. When they did, this paradox of life and death bejeweled their fellowship.

But the Corinthians were too full of themselves. So, their remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus were not solemn or joyful acts. There was no faith involved. Instead, they were like any other gathering where people did not seek to include others. If someone else goes away hungry, what’s that to a full person?

In Christ, that doesn’t happen. The sacrifice of Christ unites us all in his death and resurrection. As such, there’s no room for us to not make room for anyone else. Our worship is not about us. The Corinthians needed to get over themselves. Shouldn’t we?

When you gather for Communion, then, you aren’t proclaiming your church. Not even your faith. As Paul reminds us, we are proclaiming “the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Jesus’ death brought life. There’s the paradox again.

That is our proclamation. And the more comfortable we are dying to ourselves, the more we experience the newness of life promised to us.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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