Reflection on 1 Corinthians 10

1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.

Spiritual food, spiritual drinks, and a spiritual rocks. I see a theme here. It seems that Paul is confirming that food and drinks and rocks can be much more than what they appear on the surface. One person has retorted: This is typology, not ontology. I'm not so sure.

However, I think it's fair to ask what Paul meant when he said "that Rock was Christ." He is either creating a clear metaphor, in which case one has to ask the question, "What does he really mean when he says that the rock is Christ?" Or, "What is the metaphor about in the first place?". On the other hand, Paul could be speaking literally, yet rhetorically, which leaves the questions, "How does Jesus become a Rock - and for that matter, why?

It's insanely hard to imagine a Rock literally being Christ, but no more so than trying to wrap one's head around the idea that the Eucharist is somehow literally Jesus. So perhaps what is truly important here isn't 'facts and figures' about the metaphysics of how Jesus is physically present or not present somewhere or in something, but rather the fact that in Christ we live and move and find our being. This should motivate us to share, love, serve, and willingly continue to conform ourselves to Jesus. Whether symbolic, metaphorical or literal, the point is for us to flee from the idolatry of anything that is not Christ.

We idolize many things: faith itself, religious practice, national identity, money, possessions, our jobs, status, the pursuit of happiness, liberty etc.

these things
are not
Christ.
But Christ can redeem them all
For the Glory of God

The question for me in all of this is: Will I allow Jesus to do his work in us and through me, or will I stand in his way as I hold my own desires above the will of God, and refuse to die to myself?

God's will for my life is not about when, and where or how - but "whom"
In whom do I live and move and breathe?
In whose 'image' am I conforming to - my own self-image, or Christ's image?

2 comments:

Seán said...

I disagree with your saying that the passages imagery being either literal, metaphorical or symbolic is unimportant to its point. I think it is incredibly important, and actually upholds your thesis that the passages point is to say "in Christ we live and move and have our being, so flee from all idolatry and anything that isn't Christ."

Saying that Christ literally was the rock leans towards a sort of paganism (maybe even wiccan specifically, if memory serves). You start heading down a dangerous road, imo, when you suggest that Christ is physically in creation because you rip down the walls of creation/creator and make them intertwined (example: a married couple can have a baby. they created that baby, that baby can have it's parents traits but the parents are not physically inside of the baby... the baby reflects its parent. I think the same sort of thing can be applied to God. He created creation which therefore shows us some part of him, but he is not physically in that creation. That make sense?)

Considering that specific passage is basically a play on the Exodus, one should look to the Exodus to understand what exactly Paul was saying. I think that the passage is much more typology than it is ontology, though there is an ontological bend to in (in so much as it's trying to make the Corinthian church realize the centrality of Jesus in everything they do, and everything they now were). I don't think it was saying that Jesus was literally a Rock... I think it was saying that Jesus provides, just like the rock did (thus providing a sort of foreshadow for the Israelites about the nature/character of the Messiah) which should, like you said, motivate people to share, love, serve and willingly conform themselves to the image of Christ.

well put!

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