Monday, February 19, 2007

Communing With Death

… anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
(1 Corinthians 11:29 – ESV)

As Christians we are to be sharing in the fellowship of the Spirit (Philippians 2:1). We are to be communing with Christ, but also with one another. A major facet and the visible expression of this communion is manifest by taking the Lord’s Supper. Consider the fact that the Bible never mentions having the Lord’s Supper outside the context of the local church community. Communion is with Christ, the Head, but He is the Head of His Body, the Church.

Think about it. What are you going to do, take Communion by yourself? There are many who do and are taught just that. Unfortunately it is not just those who don’t attend a local church, but also those who think daily Communion outside of church is a good thing. It isn’t it is selfish. If that is what you think, that you can have communion with God and can take the Lord’s Supper without ever having to partake with other people, then listen up.

In 1 Corinthians 11:29 Paul tells us that those who take Communion unworthily are drinking damnation to themselves. Paul describes what unworthiness is. He says it is failing to discern the body of the Lord. Does this mean failing to recognize the elements as His Body? Reading the context of the passage, we can unequivocally state ABSOLUTELY NOT! Paul is saying that failing to discern the Body is failing to consider the members of that Body, all the members.

We cannot take Communion with all the believers across the world at the same time. But the local church is the expression of such a communion by which we respect the other members. To fail to discern this, to think we can have communion without fellowshipping with other local believers is to disrespect people that Christ died for. To take Communion outside the local assemble in that fashion is to drink unworthily. When we are taking Communion unworthily, it is because we are failing to discern His Body, and His Body is the Church! Again, think about the context here in this passage, it is about respect for the fellow members of the Body.

Verse 30 says that is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. We can take this and apply it to today by saying that because you have not discerned the Lord’s Body, that is why you are so spiritually weak, or worse, dead. Of course many who are habitually missing church or those who just simply won’t go at all are probably not thinking about taking Communion anyway. However, they certainly would be mistaken to take it by themselves all the time.

He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17), but how can you share in the communion of the Holy Ghost (2 Corinthians 13:14) sitting there at home? Now if you cannot go out, if you are a shut in because of age and/or health, then obviously this isn’t you. However, you could ask the local church to come to you, and any good church, any true church will. You may be at death’s door, but you can still be communing with the Life of the local church in that way.

Christian living is like spectator sports – it is better to be a player than just a fan. Doing electronic church without the real thing is like playing a video sport game. You could be the best player in the history of the world at that game, but you might not even be able to play the real thing. In that case, if you got in the real game, you would “get killed”. You have no game; your fantasyland won’t play in the real world. Your skills would be as good as dead on the real field of play. So it is with your notion of no church. You think you have Life, but you are communing with death.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, I can agree with what you're saying but here's the question that comes to my mind. Many churches partake of communion monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. If I'm persuaded that I should be partaking more frequently, what am I to do?

anonymous too said...

If one were a member of our church they should:
Pray....talk to the Pastor....and put a note in the "Body Talk" box.

Even So... said...

Who was that masked "man"?...

Anon, good question for sure, and although we weren't adressing that scenario in particular, it does point out the need for some congregations to take the Lord's Table more seriously...

I am not about to go off track and into the debate over "sacrament or ordinance", or "means of grace" or "memorial", but I will say this...for churches that believe in the Lord's Supper as a "means of grace" this would make this post even more true...

Jim Vallenga will probably come over and confirm what I say, as well as Jazzy Cat....fellas?...

Rileysowner said...

Good post. Regardless of whether one sees the Lord's Supper as a means of grace (What I personally believe) or a mere memorial, the celebration should be more frequent than most of the congregations I am familiar with.

I would love to say the congregation I serve celebrated more often, but also believing that the local congregation is to be lead by a plurality of elders means that I am not the one who makes that decision, and they are of the opinion that overly frequent celebrations would make people take the Lord's Supper for granted.

I disagree for two reasons. First, we don't take that approach to the preaching of the Word. (Thankfully) We realize that it is important for the gathered church of God to be taught from the Scriptures. Secondly, an empirical observation, I have not yet met a believer from a congregation that celebrates the Lord's Supper frequently who takes it for granted. In fact even the ones who celebrate it weekly have spoken to me of how important it is to them.

My suggestion if you are in a congregation that does not celebrate it as often as you think it should be, is first, pray; and second speak to the leaders about this in a respectful and humble manner listening especially to their reasons for not doing this. They are the leaders that Christ has given to the congregation you are part of, and they may have a good reason for their practice. I think it is important to realize that the scriptures do not explicitly state how frequently the Supper is to be celebrated. Thus, local congregations, as long as they actually celebrate the Lord's Supper, have some discretion in this area.

Even So... said...

Thanks for that...

Garry Weaver said...

Great post! Quite timely for me, as I am currently preaching a series on the local church.

Paulie said...

Food for the mind, food for the spirit. I am well fed.

Craver VII said...

I hate when I have to skip communion. I don't mean missing church (which rarely happens); I mean letting the plate pass me by. I really hate it.

Paulie said...

This "Anonymous" individual seems to have a type of writing I have seen somewhere, as well as the style of writing. Hmmm...

Gojira said...

"I hate when I have to skip communion. I don't mean missing church (which rarely happens); I mean letting the plate pass me by. I really hate it."

I know how you feel.

Anonymous said...

craver vii and gojira indicated they let the plate pass by (and hate it). Am I missing something? Why would you do that?

Gojira said...

Hi Anon,

We are told to examine ourselves in 1Cor. Communion is holy, and has a depth of meaning that should not be taken lightly. Although I rarely make any sense, I'd like to offer an example (an yes I know that this example will have problems, but I'll trust that you will see the point): Consider visiting something like the Vietnam war memorial. To the vets that served there, the memorial stands for something, it represents something vastly important. Now with him watching (or if he is dead, then with his family watching) spit on the memorial.

For the record, I have missed it once. I did so because of unresolved sin. I needed to make ammends to someone I knew that I had hurt.

Why do you post anon?

Gojira said...

"craver vii and gojira indicated they let the plate pass by (and hate it)"

Just so there will be no misunderstanding, the hate was on letting the plate pass by without partaking of it.

The way you have this worded could be easily misunderstood.

Paulie said...

I too have been in the position of having to let the elements pass by me. Thats why I like having communion on a set day of the month, I can take the time needed in advance to humbly be in prayer and ask God to bring to mind those sins that I may not have been aware of. Or those that I just plain needed to confess and be cleansed of.

Anonymous said...

gojira and Paulie,

Thanks for responding. I might need to rethink my approach to Communion. I've always thought of it as a time for repenting, confessing and soliciting His help in doing so (and of course thanking Him for being my God). For me "not" to participate would be me telling Him that I didn't care what I've done or said or been like.

I think I stay anonymous because I don't want any preconceived thoughts (by those who may know me) assigned to my comments and questions.

Thanks again.

Craver VII said...

1st Corinthians 11:17-34 is the main text used for communion, but there is also a principle I exercise from another passage.

"So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." (emphasis mine) Mt. 5:23-24

I cannot truly love God, (who I cannot see) if I am having a family feud or ongoing bitterness with someone else (who I CAN see). So, in order to prevent communion from becomming meaningless religiosity, I must go and make things right.

Oh, and ANON, you can still remain anonymous if you choose an anagram or nickname, and even select another picture instead of your own.

Even So... said...

Good stuff...

We try and use diferent texts for Communion every time, instead of just focusing on the mechanical aspect of it...we try and show how this fits into all of the fabric of the Bible, Christ as bringing us into Communion with God, and so forth, many times the text we are preaching from that day we use, there isn't a text in the Bible that could not be used, we must show how it is woven into all points, as Christ is (John 5:39, etc.)...perhaps I will unleash my post "More Than A (mechanical) Memorial" soon...