The Christian life is full of paradoxes. There are many things which are totally opposite to the way the world thinks and works.
For example, the world says that in order to get ahead, you have to take. You have to use every opportunity to accumulate things. But Jesus taught the opposite. He said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV) Further, we need to give with the right attitude. If we give with the motive of getting, rather than to bless others, we will not receive blessings in return.
The world teaches us that the way to become great is to promote yourself. In addition, a lot of people have the idea that in order to rise you have to do it at the expense of others. You have to knock everyone else down so you can get ahead of them. But Scripture teaches the exact opposite. Jesus told His disciples, “…You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45 NIV)
Later, the Apostle Peter wrote, “…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5-6 NIV)
Another one of the paradoxes of Christianity is that in order to live, we have to die. Jesus said, “…whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:35-37 NIV)
Along the same lines Paul wrote, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” (Romans 6:8 NIV)
The world teaches us not to display weakness. We should hide our vulnerabilities. We are supposed to be strong and act tough. In contrast, the Bible teaches us that we are strongest when we are weak. How can this be? It is because it is when we get out of the way and quit depending on ourselves, that God’s power can work through us.
In 1st Corinthians 1, verses 20 through 31 Paul writes, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. 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.”” (NIV)
This is one reason we take Communion each week. It reminds us of reality. It keeps things in perspective. We have nothing to boast about except what Christ has done for us. We are weak, and we need His strength. We are strong only in Him. The bread which represents Christ’s body and the juice which represents His blood, remind us that He died for us. In order to live, we too must die to self and take on His life.