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Communion Meditations (2014)

Perfume

Originally scheduled for August 31

We are taught that, as part of communion, we are to examine ourselves – but we are not taught to examine others in the congregation.  There are some very practical reasons for this:

·         Examining others – and we’re good at this – misses the main point of communion.  It’s a distraction from the passion of Christ.  Like we tell our Little League players, keep your eye on the ball.

·         Examining others creates hardness of heart.  At communion you should be getting rid of your spiritual problems, not making them worse.

·         Examining others makes Judgmentalism seem to be holy and pious.  It isn’t.

We have a good instance of this in the Scriptures:

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, "Why this waste? "For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor." But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. "For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. "For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. "Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her."

(Matthew 26:6-13 NASB)

 

Note the reply of Jesus:  why do you bother the woman?  After all, whose perfume is it?  Who set you up as judge?  God is working in her life too, as well as yours. You may think this is a waste – but isn’t that much like saying that God cannot provide?  Have you prayed about this, or is it just snap judgment?  If it seems all that important to you, shouldn’t you consider the harmony of the church and inquire of her privately?

So we are taught to examine ourselves.  May I suggest that this examination should be both diligent and detailed?  It should produce at least one good result:  you should ask God’s aid in dealing with the problems you find.  The purpose of this self-examination is repentance.

As Paul tells us, in his famous passage on Communion:

But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

(1 Corinthians 11:31-32 NASB)

 

As a Chinese Christian once put it, “Lord, reform thy world – beginning with me.”

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