Practical Christianity

Pick the word from the list that doesn’t belong:

mathematics      auto repair         socialism          Christianity

Most people, I think, would pick auto repair. It’s easy to understand why. They think of the other three as groups of ideas that involve the mind. Auto repair is different; it takes intelligence but also a skilled pair of hands. I think that many people might see auto repair as operating on a different level from the other three things. It’s more down to earth, less theoretical and more practical.

The interesting  thing about the little test above isn’t what   it reveals about how people think of auto repair. What’s interesting is what it shows about how people think of Christianity. They tend to think it’s mainly a matter of the mind. It’s about words and ideas, not things. So for many it’s in the same category as a discipline like mathematics or a philosophy like socialism. For some it’s just another subject on the long list of religious “isms” in the world. Sadly, that means that people think of Christianity as something more theoretical than practical. To them it’s something far removed from the everyday world. It may be handy at a few crucial moments in life, but it can safely be ignored the rest of the time. People seem to get along fine without it.

Christianity is all about such simple, humble things as eating bread and drinking wine.

It’s almost as if the Lord Jesus foresaw all this. Before his death, he instituted something that removes Christianity completely from the list of religious “isms” in the world and makes it far more than another set of ideas. Something, in other words, that makes Christianity less like mathematics and more like auto repair.

Before his death, Jesus took bread, broke it, gave it to   his disciples, and said, “Take; eat. This is my body, which is given for you.” Then he took a cup of wine, gave it to them, and said, “Take; drink. This is my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus is not some vague, abstract idea. He comes “in, with, and under” the bread and wine. The disciples of Jesus take bread and eat it together. They take wine and drink it together. When they do, Jesus gives them his body and blood—and with them, the forgiveness  of all their sins. Through the simple, down-to-earth, physical act of eating bread and drinking wine, Jesus gives his followers the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation— blessings that constitute the heart of the gospel.

You see, Christianity is all about such simple, humble things as eating bread and drinking wine. Christianity does not belong only to the world of words and ideas but also      to the world of things. In our everyday world of words and “isms,” Jesus has given us something practical to help us cling to his promises.


© 2004 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.