Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Lord's Communion

There is a church in Michigan named “Mars Hill” and it is pastored by a man named Rob Bell. This church can be described as an emergent church and in effect they have very little orthodox doctrine in word or practice except when pressed about it. But last Sunday, according to one of their associate pastors, as the church took communion a Muslim lady was invited to partake as well. She refused on the grounds that it would violate her religious beliefs.

The associate pastor commended the people who invited that Muslim woman to receive communion. I should not have to spend much time enumerating the many heresies involved here, suffice to say that inviting an unbeliever to receive communion in your church reveals you have very little respect for the New Testament Scriptures. Rob Bell has been shown to be a false teacher and an heretic many times over. Case closed.

But as I have often said, identifying the errors in others does little good in us except to reinforce what we already believe and practice. What all of us need is the Holy Spirit to identify the errors in ourselves so we can be transformed into a more authentic replica of the Lord Jesus. One of the main issues I have with the “discernment” wing of evangelicalism is the fact that there is scant attention paid to their own shortcomings and sins. In fact, if too much attention is paid to seeking out the sins of others the residual effect many times is a blindness to your own sins.

Take a pair of binoculars. Look at the house down the street, and adjust them so the house is seen clearly. Then move the binoculars to look across the street at that house, and if the binoculars are not readjusted the house is very blurry. And that is what happens when you set your spiritual eyes upon the sins of others; you cannot see your own sins and in fact your vision of Jesus is compromised. The sins and false teachings of others warn us about certain false teachers and many false teachings, but they cannot edify or exhort or even convict us of our own compromises and corruptions.

So I would like to address the issue of believers by the millions who take communion while being either in open sin or being spiritually stagnant. And in addition, the way we practice communion is an insult to the Spirit and has the imprint of a fast paced society all over it. Our culture refuses inconvenience and has an insatiable need to compartmentalize everything so as not to interfere with our hurried lifestyle. Hence, meditation, introspection, and even worship must be accomplished within a reasonable time frame or the myopic attention span will soon wane. And communion must be parsed out monthly or quarterly, and it must be done with a redundant efficiency that attempts to avoid any additional time which may annoy the congregants.

And so communion is many times observed as a religious ritual rather than a sacred time of worship and repentance. Those who contend that you can worship and repent in a few short minutes and move conveniently on to something else are deceived. The early church received communion almost every Sunday, and it was not the streamlined kind we experience today. We as believers have seriously diminished the importance of the Lord’s Supper, and even though we believe it is emblematic, it still should be spiritually substantive and meaningful. Many people spend more time in the bathroom on Sunday morning than they do worshiping through communion.

But moving away from methodology, let us examine the heart that should approach communion. Even the basic Bible student should recognize the error in inviting unbelievers to the communion table, but he should also recognize how grievous it is when carnal hearts that have been busy with their own business throughout the week, pause to partake in this solemn feast only to quickly resume their earthly lives that have little or no time for the One they profess to follow. Everyone wears a watch, and the watch reminds us of earthly time and obligations. It is often the enemy of the Spirit where time is measured in eternity.

Men can see your Sunday clothes, your combed hair, your carefully applied makeup, or your shined shoes. But God sees the heart. If there are 200 people in the auditorium, then God is interested in 200 hearts. And God knows if these 200 hearts worshiped Him with any depth and time during the week, or if the majority of these hearts lived a life that reflected the culture during the week, but desire to be seen for a few meager hours as wholly committed to Christ. And it is within this mixed multitude that the Lord’s Supper will be practiced and observed with a spiritual intensity that will change hearts and lives? I think not.

But there will be no Muslims taking communion in your church, and that is supposed to represent some divine favor? One way in which you can deepen your experience as you observe communion is to take it alone. A few weeks after I was saved in 1975 I began taking the Lord’s Supper alone. I did not know anyone else who was born again, and I was still looking for the kind of church which strove to accurately reflect the New Testament. And even after I found such a church, and even after I was ordained, I still from time to time took communion alone. I suggest to you that this can make it so much more meaningful, and it usually affords you much more time to worship the Crucified and Risen Lord.

From my archive.

So let us not commend ourselves for our orthodoxy in observing communion, especially when it is so effortless when juxtaposed against such blatant error. But let us examine our hearts before God and ask the Holy Spirit to cut away the redundancy and the compartmentalization, and renew the Lord’s Supper in our hearts and lives. And when Jesus said, “This do in remembrance of Me”, He did not mean just in the few moments in which you take the elements. We are supposed to have our minds and hearts dwelling upon the Lord Jesus every single day. And if that is the case, then the feast called communion will be a deep culmination of Christ’s presence during the week, and it will bring glory to the Risen Christ!


RickB. said...

I am enjoying your posts. I have changed thinking on communion, and you might consider this--

To approach the table in a wrong spirit is wrong, per Scripture. The Corinthians were rebuked for being irreverent and gluttonous.

But I believe the most unworthy can come to the table, even a Muslim if they come in respect. The point is that Jesus died specifically for the unworthy, and when we have communion we acknowledge this. If an unbeliever acknowledges this, he is making way for the truth to enter into his life. The truth sets free.

This is a rather historical issue. Solomon Stoddard, Wesley, and others saw communion as a 'converting ordinance'. Jonathan Edwards didn't, and got kicked out of his church over it.

Used to think I had to pass the cup if I had sinned or was unworthy that day. Wrong! That is just the time I need to take the cup, and remember that my righteousness is in Him.

Rick Frueh said...

Thank you for your comment. The Lord's Supper is for believers. We are supposed to do this "in remembrence of Him" which an unbeliever cannot do.

It is a New Covenant feast which again, would exclude those without the covenant. When the Ethiopian eunich asked, "What keeps me from being baptised"?, the answer was "Do You believe?.

And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

And without faith it is impossible to please God. Communion is not an evangelism tool. Communion is a covenant observance for those in covenant with God through Jesus.

The "unworthy" part in Corinth seems to be when they were using a church picnic to count as communion and kill two birds with one stone. Christ.