Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Take Eat

Nothing is meant to unite and is used to divide Christ's church like the sacraments. One of those ordinances is the Lord's Supper. (It is hard to even talk about these things without the words we use espousing a particular view. I have deliberately mixed the words for this reason.) One of the difficult questions is, in what way is Christ present in the elements, physically, spiritually or symbolically? And this is a question Scripture does not  deal with. To take the word "is" as necessarily meaning "is physically" is reading more into it than is there in any language I am familiar with (Revelation 17:18; Genesis 49:21; Song of Solomon 4:12). However, there is also no passage where it clearly teaches He is not physically present; it is a matter of judgment. Related to this is the question of what communion actually accomplishes in the lives of those who partake of it. Again, this is not something Scripture addresses. Now Scripture does say we are saved by faith (John 6:35; Romans 4:9-12; Ephesians 2:8,9). It also discourages us from believing that simply going through the motions of a ritual will commend us to God (Romans 2:25-29; Malachi 1:10; Isaiah 58:5-10). But we are told that God is at work in His people to transform them (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; Titus 2:11-14). But exactly how the Eucharist is involved in this process is not explained.

In communion, we remember what Christ has done for us, proclaim it to the world, and anticipate His Second Coming (1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 22:15-20; Mark 14:22-25). Who then may participate? Those who are part of Christ's body (1 Corinthians 10:16,17; 6:15-17; Galatians 3:26-29). But do we need to be worthy to partake (1 Corinthians 11:27-32)? The passage does not say "unworthy," but "in an unworthy manner." The issue was not that the Corinthians did not measure up to some standard, but that they had turned the Lord's Supper into a drunken feast where the rich showed contempt for the poor by refusing to share food with them. I suspect that this same charge could be laid against someone who felt they could totally flaunt God's commandments and then nonchalantly come to partake of the Eucharist.   And certainly, if there is some specific sin God brings to mind, the Lord's Supper is as good a time as any to repent. But I do not believe an individual needs to have reached a certain level of holiness or belong to a certain faction to partake, which is why I favor open communion. But I do not see any qualifications at all given for the one who administers the communion. It seems appropriate that they be a believer, but nothing is said beyond that. But I am convinced that when Christ said to take and eat, it was not based on meeting certain qualifications, but rather it should be the response of faith to the grace we have been given.   

No comments:

Post a Comment