Monday, March 7, 2011

The cup is the new covenant between God and his people

1Cor. 11:23-33 NLT  
   23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. 
   27 So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.  
   31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.  32 Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 
   33 So, my dear brothers and sisters, when you gather for the Lord’s Supper, wait for each other. 

The celebration of "The Lord's Supper" is some thing precious to all who are members of the Body of Christ's Believers. The more formalized church took to calling it communion and used it for evil purposes to exercise power and influence over nations and rulers, as well as the common people. Since the protestant reformation, even among some protestant groups the clergy has abused laity with restrictive practices about the celebration of the Lord's supper. However, the event we celebrate was set up by the Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Gospels. Paul, here, reminds us that Jesus was the one who told us to 'do this in remembrance. . . '  No minister or priest has the authority before God to tell someone they can or cannot partake in the Lord's Supper (also called Communion.) Only God and that particular person himself or herself can make this determination. Christ invited us to His supper and the only condition is that we partake in His nature.

Have we examined ourselves and found that we have submitted all self-will to Him? Have we considered our choices to do the things that will glorify God rather than ourselves and chosen the former over the latter? Have we prayed and surrendered control to God and asked Him to live within our nature like He promised and remake us into His image? Then we can partake. I've enjoyed the Lord's Supper since I became a believer in 1959. However, I always pause a moment before I partake, whether I am leading it or sitting in a pew receiving it. I pause and ask myself if Jesus is yet Lord over all there is of me. I pause to ask Him to take charge of any part of my life that I have not submitted or that I may have picked up again to exercise my own will over. And then I partake.

Apparently, unworthy participation lead to sickness and death in the first century church. Now, I do not know if that happens today but there are a lot of people in the church taking part in this celebration with questionable behaviors in their lives. Are there some who take it as a sort of a magic spell to ward off evil? Are there some who just do it out of decades of habit? I can't say for sure. What I can say is that we must all be sure we 'examine ourselves' as Paul said in verse 31. If we are patient with each other in the celebration of the Lord's supper then we can be patient with each other in all the rest of our relationships because the Love of Christ can make it so with us.
Your servant in Christ's service

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