Summary: Meditations on the Lord’s Supper preceding a Communion Meal
WILL YOU LET JUST ANYONE EAT AT YOUR TABLE?
“When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 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.”
The Lord’s Supper is integral to Christian worship. However, this rite is too often treated thoughtlessly as though it were merely a prerequisite of the liturgy required in order to free us to do what we deem to be really important. We perform the rituals associated with the ordinance without thinking about what we are doing. Observance of the Lord’s Table has become routine, so habitual and so pedestrian within our churches that we have forgotten a basic truth—this is the Lord’s Supper, not ours. We are not at liberty to invite whom we will to the Table, but rather, it is the Lord Himself who invites whom He wills to share in this Meal.
When you sit down at your dining table, I seriously doubt that you look outside to see if there is anyone wandering by whom you can invite to join you at the table. Most of us are somewhat careful about who we invite to our table. Certainly, we invite family and friends to share in our camaraderie. Perhaps we will invite some who are less fortunate than us to join us in enjoying the bounty with which God has blessed us. However, strangers wandering past our home have no right to our table.
It is obvious to most of us that we do not “owe” anyone the right to share in our meal. It is our table; and we invite those whom we wish to bless with our friendship to join us as we eat. It is not simply that we are providing food for friends and family, but that we are sharing ourselves. Around the table, we fellowship; we share our very selves at the table, giving something of ourselves to those who join us at the meal and receiving convivial intercourse in return. Because dining together is more than merely an act of ingesting food, we are careful about whom we invite to join us.
Strangely enough, what is obvious in the world beyond the walls of the church is ignored at the Table of the Lord. Here, we grow quite passionate about our “rights” to the Lord’s Table. However, should we not inquire of the Lord whom He invites to His Table? If this is truly His Table, then He must have the final word concerning who eats at His Table. Thus, we should ask whether the Bible has anything to say concerning those invited to the Lord’s Table. Indeed, when we ask, we discover that God has addressed this issue, though we have largely ignored what He has said.
We need to clarify the purpose of the Lord’s Table in order to discover who is invited to the Lord’s Table. Then, having established the purpose of the ordinance, we will likely discover God’s instruction concerning those who are to share at the Supper. Ultimately, asking how we arrived at the point now observed within evangelicalism will benefit us through deterring us from continued error. Join me, then, in exploring Paul’s instruction to the Corinthian Christians concerning who is invited to the Lord’s Table.