By Tom Lawson
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
What could be more foolish than Communion—a little bread and grape juice or wine through which we are invited to experience Christ? Perhaps the only thing more foolish is saving the world with some wood, a few nails, and torn, bleeding flesh.
We like to make the chasm between the spiritual and the physical as clear as the difference between day and night. The unseen spiritual is all “up there” somewhere or inside our hearts—by which we never mean the muscle circulating blood. The spiritual is so separate we sometimes think of the two as opposing ideas. Spiritual equals good. Physical equals bad. Spiritual is about God. Physical is about secular, earthly things.
It is no wonder many believers find a good musical presentation about the cross, especially if accompanied by video, far more moving than eating small bits of bread and drinking a tiny amount of juice. After all, during the music our hearts, that unseen inside part of us, can be moved to reach out toward the equally unseen Spirit of God. Some suggest we skip the actual bread and cup, or at least incorporate them into a nice musical presentation.
Paul reminds us, however, that what seems like foolishness may be the wisdom and power of God. That actual crucifixion of Jesus had no moving music and lasted a grueling six hours. Wood, nails, and flesh stood there in visible reality. Yet God did something beyond understanding. I don’t think those watching actually felt it. I’m sure they didn’t understand it. But, there it was. Right in front of them. As clear as the difference between day and night, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.
In Communion, God is also doing something we may not always feel and will likely never fully understand. If the difference between spiritual and physical is like the difference between day and night, Communion is the merging of both. Communion, with the wood, nails, and flesh of Calvary, is the physical acting as a conduit for the spiritual.
Bread. Body. Cup. Blood. Communion. Christ.
Tom Lawson is a professor at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri.