Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea.
They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life.
They all ate
and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God's fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ.
But just experiencing God's wonder and grace didn't seem to mean much - most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.
The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did.
And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did - "First the people partied, then they threw a dance."
We must not be sexually promiscuous - they paid for that, remember, with twenty-three thousand deaths in one day!
We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes.
We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.
These are all warning markers - danger! - in our history books, written down so that we don't repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel - they at the beginning, we at the end - and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were.
Don't be so naive and self-confident. You're not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it's useless. Cultivate God-confidence.
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it.
So, my very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.
I assume I'm addressing believers now who are mature. Draw your own conclusions:
When we drink the cup of blessing, aren't we taking into ourselves the blood, the very life, of Christ? And isn't it the same with the loaf of bread we break and eat? Don't we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ?
Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness - Christ doesn't become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him. We don't reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is.
That's basically what happened even in old Israel - those who ate the sacrifices offered on God's altar entered into God's action at the altar.
Do you see the difference? Sacrifices offered to idols are offered to nothing, for what's the idol but a nothing?
Or worse than nothing, a minus, a demon! I don't want you to become part of something that reduces you to less than yourself.
And you can't have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next.
Besides, the Master won't put up with it. He wants us - all or nothing. Do you think you can get off with anything less?
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)