The Symbol is Not the Thing

I don’t normally come home from church and blog my pastor’s sermon.  I know some people do.  I am making an exception.  The following is my take on the Sunday a.m. service preached by Ken Bolin of Manchester, KY.

I Samuel 4:1-11

Luke 22:14-23

In I Samuel, the Israelites confuse the Ark of the Covenant for what the Ark represented, namely the presence of God.  They wrongly assumed carrying the Ark into battle would protect them. A similar mistake was made about the Jerusalem temple during the time of Jeremiah the Prophet.  Because the temple was there, God’s dwelling place, the city of Jerusalem could not fall to the Babylonians.  It did, just as Jeremiah had prophesied.  The Ark of the Covenant was not God; not only were they defeated, but the Ark was taken and those who bore it were killed.  The Ark of the Covenant symbolized God’s presence.  God was not in the box, as perhaps they thought.  God was not the box, and the box was not God.  They confused the symbol with the thing it represented.

In the New Testament Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper, or communion.  Believers are commanded to take it in remembrance of him.  The bread represents the body of Jesus that was broken, and the fruit of the vine represents his blood.  Make no mistake; these things symbolize the body and blood of Jesus.  The symbol is not the thing.  We must be careful not to make idols of the symbols in Christianity.  The image of the cross, an ichthus (fish shape), a crucifix, even the Bible, are things that represent our Christian faith.  Do not worship them instead of God.

One thought on “The Symbol is Not the Thing

  1. This quote seems to go along with what you and the sermon are saying. “One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.” A.W. Tozer
    “Lov’n the Lord & Liv’n the Life…”

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