Familiar Elements

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (English Standard Version)
And I, when I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul reminded the church in Corinth that he hadn’t come to impress them with big, fancy words, or to wow them with his intelligence or knowledge. He had come to Corinth for one purpose and one purpose only: to tell them about the gift God had given to the world in Jesus.

When we share in the Lord’s Supper in a church service, there are usually certain words that we say before we take the bread and juice together. The words — the Communion “liturgy” — help us to remember the events of Jesus’ last days on earth and the gift given to us in his life, death, and resurrection. Toward the end of that liturgy, we recall how Jesus shared in a meal with his friends on the night he was betrayed:

“On the night in which Jesus gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks, blessed it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat. This is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ When the supper was over, he took the cup, again gave thanks, blessed it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Drink from this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. As often as you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.'”

God took the simple elements of a meal — bread and wine — and transformed them into a reminder of Jesus’ unprecedented self-giving. It’s counterintuitive that two such commonplace items could hold such multifaceted meaning: forgiveness and freedom and sacrifice and joy and gratitude and hope.

In a similar way, when we invite God in, God takes the familiar elements of our lives and transforms them into something new and powerful. Conversations with loved ones become more meaningful. Work becomes an opportunity to give of our talents and abilities. Helping others becomes a calling. Growing a deeper relationship with God becomes indescribable joy. All this — and much, much more — is a free gift of the God who loves us. No strings attached.

… and that is something that the wisdom of the world will always struggle to understand.

What new meaning has following God given to your everyday life?

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