Calvin Fridays: Our Best is our Worst

The British Army in Normandy 1944 B6854

“For since in it Christ is given to us as food, we understand that without him we would pine away, starve, and faint- as famine destroys the vigor of the body. Then, since he is given us unto life, we understand that without him in us we would plainly be dead. Therefore, this is the worthiness- the best and only kind we can bring to God- to offer our vileness and (so to speak) our unworthiness to him so that his mercy may make us worthy of him; to despair in ourselves so that we may be comforted in him; to abase ourselves so that we may be justified by him; moreover, to apsire to that unity which he commends to us in his Supper; and, as he makes all of us one in himself, to desire one soul, one heart, one tongue for us all.”- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 4, Chapter 17, Section 42.

“I am the bread of life.”- John 6:48.

To come to the table of the Lord’s Supper is to come confessing hunger. By its very nature, the Supper necessitates that we recognize our depravity and need, our emptiness and want. I love when we take communion in the Body, for it allows me to be honest with everyone around me. I don’t have it all together. I’m weak. I’m hungry. And it allows me, symbolically and supernaturally, to come again to Christ, to be lifted into His arms, to be fed and nourished again. But this isn’t simply how we come to the Supper. It is how we come to Christ. If He makes claims like “I am the bread of life,” surely that means we are not. And if we are not, what are we? We are not food, but vessels to receive it. We are not nourishment, but bodies needing strength. To come to Christ is to offer Him our best, which is our worst. It is to say, “I’m rebellious. I do not desire You as I should. I do not care for You as I should. I have feasted on other things besides You. I have looked for sustenance in my pride, in my self-pity, in my self-worth. I have loathed Your ways, and I have hated Your rule. But I am in need, and You can change that.” For in our need, our beggar-like stature, prostrated before Him, He can give us what we need. In coming to Christ we admit we do not have what we need, but that He does. He is. And in this stature, as we take of the bread and wine together, and as we, individually, come to Him daily in the quiet of our own homes and in the places of our work, we are united in attitude and in spirit, declaring to the world, “We have nothing but Christ.”

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