Archive for the ‘Communion’ Category

…An Unworthy Manner July 20, 2010

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason, many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged“ (1 Cor. 12:26-31).

In this passage, Paul is writing in the context of a conflict among the Corinthian believers as to the physical abuse of the Lord’s table during communion. Certain believers were gorging themselves on the bread and wine to the point of drunkenness (12:21), leaving others out of the celebration altogether. Obviously, this would qualify as an “œunworthy manner,” tantamount to taking God’s name in vain. The part that confuses us is the pronouncement of sickness and death as a consequence of these actions (12:30). To our sanitized sense of church, this seems very “œOld Testament”, and out of character with the grace represented by communion.

Passages like this bring us face to face with an imagined conflict between holiness and grace. Christ came to fulfill the law, but the law is not a stand-alone. The law served to show us our sin in relation to God’s uncompromising holiness. When Christ’s sacrifice fulfilled the law, He allowed his blood to cover our sins and permit us to fellowship with Him in His righteousness. The holiness of God is unchanging, before, during, and after the law.

When those who claimed to be brothers and sisters in Christ trampled one another and indulged in the Lord’s supper with a self-focused, gluttonous attitude, they were spitting on Christ’s sacrifice. They were casting aside the significance of the observance for their own gain, forgetting who God is. They were taking Him in vain, demonstrating that, at best, they had not allowed the Spirit to reign in their hearts since professing Christ, or, at worst, that they did not know Him at all.

Does the same principle and punishment apply to us today? Our modernistic worldview has so sequestered disease and death in a scientific construct that, if it is occurring, we aren’t noticing. The principle, however, holds true in any instance of worship (read: life as a believer). Whenever we seek to  magnify ourselves (whether openly or only in the attitude of our hearts), we are not honoring Christ. When we do it under the guise of celebrating Him, we are inviting judgment. When we become involved in the church to improve our social standing or to feel good about ourselves, when we do good deeds for the recognition of men, when we give of time and money for the wrong reasons, we make light of God – we take Him in vain. We invite judgment on ourselves in this way because we are tarnishing the name of Christ. Rather, we should, as Paul commanded the Corinthians, “œ. . . proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

Posted by Justin Lonas

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