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Communion Meditations (2014)

Two Paths

Originally scheduled for November 9

(Read Luke 18:9-14.) In communion there is a sense that the Christian is presenting himself before God. This is not a familiar phenomenon in the secular world. But in the days when people had much more formality it was considered essential that you be presented to those in authority so that you might petition them as one who had been vouched for. The Bible preserves this sense both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

·         In the Old Testament the people were required to come before God at a specific place (often the Temple) and present sacrifices. There were rules and regulations for the sacrifices which required them to be perfectly suited for the type of offering they were to be. A perfect and clean sacrifice was required.

·         In the New Testament we have the sense that you are presenting your entire self before God, seeking his approval as being pure and clean. An example of this may be found in 2nd Timothy 2:15. Timothy was to present himself before God as “a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. “

As the passageway for it today points out there are two methods of doing this. Despite the warning of Christ we still see both of them today.

·         There is the method of pride. We don’t usually label it as such but you can see its characteristics. There is a condescending attitude towards those who are not so fortunate in the matter of righteousness. This is usually accompanied by a complete confidence in one’s own good works — sometimes the point of being proud of your humility.

·         There is the method of mercy. You notice that the tax collector stood at a distance; he made no pretense of being worthy enough to go up to the Temple. He had examine himself and found himself wanting. Therefore he did not proclaim himself virtuous before God, nor did he attempt to make a bargain with God about how we might improve. He made no claim to righteousness at all. Instead he asked mercy of the merciful God. In so doing he demonstrated a greater comprehension of who God is.

When we present ourselves to God at communion we are taught to examine ourselves. The proud man sees no need; after all, he thinks he is righteous and that God would agree with that. Indeed, he may be righteous by the world standards — but the standards of God are the ones that really count.

The man asking mercy sees no righteousness in himself — and sees no choice but to beg mercy from his God. It is best to be a righteous man who is humble. If you can’t do that, at least make an honest evaluation of yourself. If you deceive yourself, how will you ever get right with God?

So then, examine yourself today. Seek God’s mercy as you may require it; pray for his wisdom and how to handle the complications of your own sins. Then, after you have taken communion and are walking out, show your repentance by the change in your ways and the fact that you ask forgiveness of those whom you may have offended.

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