I’m on a diet. Sarah isn’t making me. I’m doing it because even though I had my last growth spurt as a freshman in high school I’m still a “growing boy” if you know what I mean. I’m going the no carbs / no sugar route.
The problem is, I really like food. But, a sermon has me doing some new thinking about this whole dieting thing. Like, maybe I’m missing the point of this whole breakfast, lunch and dinner thing. In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever eat the same way again. There will be the same hunting down my next meal, chewing and swallowing…but there will be a new addition to the routine.
Today’s sermon at church by Chuck Swindol was about the cross and Christ’s humble submission to a cross-like death. The cross, we learned, was such a horrific, ghastly method of execution that even the word itself was a curse word in polite society. Christ didn’t only submit to limiting his omnipotent powers and shoe-horning himself into the confines of a frail human body. He didn’t merely agree to willingly lay down his life for the sins of the world. God the Son consented to a cross kind of death.
We took communion today. The bread and juice were distributed among the crowd. Chuck reminded us of Jesus’ admonition to observe the Lord’s Supper, “in remembrance of Me.” And we ate and drank.
Some churches take communion monthly or quarterly. Other traditions encourage a daily observance of this symbolic act. But, as I tasted the wafer of bread on my tongue I wondered, how often did the disciples eat bread and drink wine? When Jesus, in that intimate moment before the storm of suffering and sacrifice, asked his small band of friends to remember him, “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup,” exactly how often was that? Perhaps more often than we think.
Bread and wine were the staples of first century diets. Bread was inexpensive and filling. Wine sanitized squalid water and made it more palatable. When Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life” he was saying, “I am the staple of survival. Without me, your souls go hungry.” The taste of bread was a sensation the common person experienced every time they were lucky enough to eat.
The Passover meal Jesus shared with his friends was a special experience – but eating and drinking weren’t. So, when Jesus said, “As often as you do this, do this in remembrance of Me,” maybe he was not saying, “As often as you have this yearly, special meal” or “as often as you have your monthly communion service.” When our Savior, who had shoe-horned himself into a human body and was willingly consenting to a death so horrible that polite Romans — who relished the cruelties of the Colosseum as entertainment — would not dare to even mention the word “cross”, asked his disciples to remember him “as often as you do this” maybe he was asking them to reflect on his sacrifice and servant-heartedness every time they raised bread or wine to their lips.
Imagine how differently we would live if we reflected for a moment on the example of Christ every time we lifted food to our mouths. How would it dull the taste of sin to us if we pictured our Savior’s humility and sacrifice for an instant whenever liquid touched our tongues? Gratefulness would lead to compassion. Sorrow for sin would motivate holiness. The picture of humility would prompt imitation.
As we thank God for life-sustaining food, let’s thank him for the cross and embrace it as our own. As we eat, may we be reminded that it is Christ – the Bread – who gives us life. As we drink, may we remember it is Christ who satisfies our thirsty souls.
How’s that for putting our me-first selves on a restriction? Now that’s a diet.