Formations 08.07.2022: Hold My Communion Wine

1 Corinthians 1:17-31

A man in black has walked past a sign reading “Danger / Keep Back” toward the edge of a cliff overlooking Crater Lake, Oregon

You’ve heard and seen the jokes. Someone does something outrageous, dangerous, or stupid. Then someone else says “Hold my beer.” The phrase has become an expression that signals the boastful intention to outdo the first person by doing something even more outrageous, dangerous, or stupid. Hilarity is likely to insure, if not a trip to the emergency room. When you hear “Hold my beer,” you know someone has had a bad idea and you have a front-row seat to gape in awe of its badness.

I appreciate when the joke-maker mixes it up a little. Is the activity something quintessentially Southern? “Hold my sweet tea.” Some mischief that toddlers are getting up to? “Hold my sippy cup.”

I wonder if, in the ancient world, somebody saw what Jesus’ first followers were up to and made a joke that ends with “Holy my Communion wine.” Because you’ve got to admit, they did some things that were outrageous and dangerous. They turned the other cheek and walked the second mile. They sold their possessions and gave to the poor. They welcomed everyone—Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female—as equals. They confessed that Jesus, not Caesar, is Lord.

People who do such things take an awful chance. You might even think they’re being stupid. In 1 Corinthians 1:17-31, Paul says that’s precisely the point. The message of the cross “is foolishness to those who are perishing” but “the power of God” to those who are being saved (v. 18).

You see, sometimes the thing that looks stupid isn’t stupid at all. In fact, as outrageous and dangerous as it may seem, it is the wisest thing a person can do. To the world at large, forsaking everything to follow Jesus seems outlandish and ill-advised. But ask the people who have done so how they feel about it. Ask them about the spiritual contentment and peace of mind that can come from seeking first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. Ask them about the love and acceptance they have known in the family they have found, even if in the process they were disowned by their family of birth.

The message of this chapter is that God’s wisdom challenges our normal understandings of wisdom, “for God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (v. 25). Nobody gets what they want at the cross.

They only get what they need.


• When have you felt foolish for doing what you believed God required of you? Were you able to discern a deeper wisdom as events played out? Explain.
• What do most people spend time and effort to acquire? What does this passage say about those efforts?
• How does this passage challenge the status quo, both in the ancient world and today?
• What might this passage say to those who have little of what our culture says is valuable?
• How can we learn to seek what God provides?

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.


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