Summary: A look at communion in light of the current situation in America
September 6, 2020
We’re going to take a 1 week hiatus from the messages about our purpose in life, looking at our calling by God and what it means to serve Him. Next week, we’ll jump back on board as we look at serving God and begin to look at what it means to have Spiritual Gifts, and how we can discover what they are.
As I was moving through the week, I really felt God leading me to move in another direction this week. In fact, on Monday I was working on the message, and on Tuesday God told me, “Nah, you need to do this . . .”
So, it’s been ruminating within me all week. Because today is communion Sunday, this makes this message all the more vital. Which is why I believe God was impressing this on me. WHY now? Because of the high view we’re called to have for what communion means and when we take it as a body of believers, God has certain expectations for you and I.
Now, that sounds rather ominous. But it’s not! I’m not leading up to same great discussion on what’s wrong with us. But God was planting something in me and I need to share it with you this morning.
To start I want to read a long passage, it’s 16 verses from 1 Corinthians 11. So, it becomes easy to tune out. But ... this is really important, especially on communion.
Understand that the church in Corinth was troubled. There were lots of issues Paul was dealing with. There were factions, there was disunity, there was a lack of understanding of who Jesus was, there were difficulties letting go of their old way of living. Lots and lots of issues. They were a very divided church. Then Paul came to a discussion about communion and he addressed the fact that they were divided over this and going about it all wrong.
Let me read you this section from 1 Corinthians 11:17-32. I’ll start with 6 verses -
17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
If we can stop for a moment and look at what Paul was saying. His words are pretty indicting of the people.
We can say there was a form of social snobbery at the Lord’s Table. The Corinthians were using these communal gatherings to make social distinctions between rich and poor. And Paul is really distressed.
He says there must be factions among you, because these factions will show who the genuine believers are. Those who are genuine will be recognized by God and approved by God for how they respond in the midst of this controversy.
They had a common meal. They all were to eat together, but if you came early, you grabbed the best of the food and started drinking the wine, and people were being gluttonous and getting drunk. If they were so hungry, Paul says, they should have eaten at home.
Then Paul states what communion really is about in the next verses - -
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.
That sounds a little familiar to the words I use before we take the bread and the cup. That’s pretty clear. Paul then goes on to say some pretty startling words about the seriousness of communion.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. - 1 Corinthians 11:17-32