Luke 9:48b – It is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest. (NIV 2011)
Today, I'd like you to meet Chippy and Red, our regular dinner guests this summer. Chippy is a chipmunk; Red is a red squirrel. They live in our backyard and join our evening meals on the deck. It didn't start smoothly, however. Red kept chasing Chippy away from the seed pile. Red's bullying behaviour made Chippy skittish. We solved the problem by setting out two seed piles: one on the rail for Red, and one near our feet for Chippy. Red doesn't come too close, so Chippy can now relax. He's even eating out of our laps and enjoys this privileged, elevated place at the table.
Obviously, there's inequality here. Red has the advantage of size and assertiveness. But Chippy has advantages, too. He can stuff an enormous quantity of seeds into his cheeks, then dash off to deposit them in his den. Every mealtime, Chippy makes several trips.
Both Chippy and Red use their instincts to their advantage. We're okay with that: the competitiveness, bullying, and hoarding. But such behaviour wasn't okay for the Corinthian Christians during mealtime:
1 Corinthians 11:20-21 – So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. (NIV 2011)
Obviously, there's some distressing misuse of advantage — something which has often threatened the church. It turns people away; it causes resentment. Really, it's a spiritual problem, and God has provided the solution through a new identity. Therefore, in Christ, all earthly distinctions acquired through advantages, disadvantages, and our lot in life are overruled by a new order:
Mark 9:35b – Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all. (NIV 2011)
This requires surrender in some way or other. At the Corinthian church meals, some would need to wait, eat less, or bring extra. Some needed to surrender resentments. This meal was, after all, the Lord's table where all governed themselves by a new law.
1 Corinthians 7:22 – The one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord's freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ's slave. (NIV 2011)
Some of us may currently be enduring a form of injustice and can't do much about it. But we can remember our ultimate advantage in Christ. Just like Chippy at dinner, we can trust our Provider for our daily bread and enjoy the privileged place of honour that He sets out for His own — at His table.
1 Peter 5:6 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (NIV 2011)
Prayer: Lord, regardless of our situation, may we fully know and enjoy the place that You have made available through Christ, that we will feel neither inferior nor superior in our relationship with one another. Amen.
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