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Communion (1995 Series)

Do You Despise the Church of God?

Scheduled for April 6

 

When the early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper, it seems it was much more physically nourishing than the symbolic method we use today.  I suspect that the Passover feast materials were used, and so it was that people were fed there in a physical as well as a spiritual sense.  Imagine Paul’s outrage, then, when this most sacred of feasts was abused by such flagrant bad manners.  From the accusations, one might conclude that the wealthy were the first in line.   Those first in line pigged out, leaving nothing for those who came later.  If you were first to the wine, you got drunk.  No wonder Paul was upset!

 

Note, however, the retort Paul throws at them:  “...do you despise the church of God...?”  The terror of this behavior is not simply bad manners.  Bad manners are usually a form of lack of respect.  In this case, the lack was directed at the church itself.  The church, however, is not the building -- indeed, in those days, they had no buildings but met in homes.  The church is composed of its members.  In other words, the rich (in this instance) were despising the poor, and in despising them, despised the church.  Could such a thing happen with us today?

 

I regret to admit it could.  I’m not speaking about accusations like “old so-and-so is an elder only because he contributes so much” (you see, the poor can despise the rich too;  they call it envy), but rather this.  When you take communion, do you look around and think, “Look at old so-and-so, that hypocrite!  How he can dare to take communion without fear of the roof falling in on him....”  You see the point, I hope.  Whether it’s outright condemnation or the more subtle “I’ll have to remember to pray for so-and-so’s repentance...” we tend to look around and see the sins and failings of others, rather than examining ourselves.

 

Make no mistake about it:  this is judging others (as in “judge not, that ye be not judged.”)  Just because it comes under the pious cloak of self-examination makes it no less judgment.  Examining myself does not mean comparing myself to others.  It means comparing myself to what God wants me to be.  When I judge others at the Lord’s Table, I’m saying they’re not good enough to partake -- and I’m despising the church of God.

 

The command is simple:  Let a man examine himself -- and no one else.

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