When our children were in High School, there was a phrase that sort of became the motto or mantra of the teachers in the English Department. It was “Think outside the box!” By ‘thinking outside the box’ they did not mean original thought or thinking for oneself. What they really meant by that phrase was that they expected the kids to accept and agree with the box that the teachers themselves lived in. In the name of freedom they were asking the children to accept the bondage of the teacher’s world-view.
But before we come down too hard on the teachers, we need to take a hard look at ourselves. I’m afraid that sometimes we are no better. In fact, we might be even worse, because all too often we try to stick God into a box of our own making. It’s understandable if someone who doesn’t know God has a warped world-view. What’s really tragic is when those of us who are Christians think and act the same way as those in the world. Instead of trying to understand what it means that we are made in God’s image, we try to make Him conform to our image. Unfortunately, when we try to bring God down to our level, we miss His glory, His majesty and His transcendence.
But God, by definition, is greater than, and outside of, the boxes which we have built around us. As God declared to Isaiah, ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)
Because God’s ways are higher than ours; because His thoughts are different than ours, He does the unexpected. He is always acting in ways that take us off guard and in ways the world does not understand. Think about it. If God operated by the standards of the world, would He have chosen any of us to be His people? As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NIV)
Righteousness, holiness, redemption. These are things that the world can never give us. But because God transcends human thought and concepts, He made it possible through Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. Who could have thought that God, Himself, would pay the price for our sin? Who could have thought that God would make it possible for sinners to take part in the divine nature? Who could have imagined that when God looks at the account of anyone one in Christ, He sees ‘paid in full’?
Jesus asked us to remember the sacrifice which bought our redemption. And so, each week we each a small piece of bread which reminds us of His body which took the punishment we deserved, and drink a cup of juice which reminds us of His blood which covers our sins.
The Lord’s Supper, as we call it, is a powerful reminder and corrective. When we start to conform to the world’s way of thinking; when we adopt the world-view of those who don’t know Christ, the Lord’s Supper reminds us again of God’s wisdom. It lifts our eyes heavenward. It reminds us of what is really important. It helps us to see things from God’s perspective.
As Paul continues in his letter to the Corinthians, “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-10)
Are you still living by the standards of this world’s wisdom? Or have you accepted God’s wisdom? The emblems of which we partake are really a declaration of which side you’re on. If you’re not in Christ; if you are not a Christian then it would be inconsistent for you to take them. If, however, you are in Christ, then these emblems are a reminder that we are outside the box this world lives in.