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Communion 2011

Comparison Shopping

Originally scheduled for February 27

Most of us don't think of it this way, but we greatly rely upon an unknown set of inspectors who verify that the scales at the supermarket are measuring things correctly. If you put 2 pounds produce into the scale it should read 2 pounds. Without an accurate scale it's impossible to get exactly 2 pounds. Everything we measure in our personal lives works on the same principle. We have a standard, and we compare things to it. If you travel outside the United States you will find that the standards of weight and measurement are metric — but the scales still have to be honest.

It's not just shopping that works this way. Given the chance, most Christians choose to measure themselves against other people, not the holiness of God. Consider the paragon of the Old Testament, Job. For several chapters his friends accuse him of being a secret sinner. Job replies, citing his righteousness and the good deeds he has done. But at the end of the book God appears. He makes it clear that the standard of righteousness is not that of Job comparing himself to other people, but comparing himself with God. Job's reaction is quite interesting:

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes."

(Job 42:5-6 NASB)

Job goes from justifying himself based on his good deeds — things we would be proud of — to understanding that compared with the holiness of God he is nothing. By man's measure, Job is holy. By God's measure, Job is Job.

It would seem therefore the God has a different measuring rod than we do. We tend to think our good deeds make us holy. To understand God's measurement of this, we need only to look at the Cross. That is the measure of God's sacrifice for us, and the measure of his love for us. He made that sacrifice before any of us ever were born; he made that sacrifice for people who were sneering at him as he died on the Cross. He forgave before they repented.

To remember that great sacrifice, we have communion. Communion shows us God's measurement of sacrifice. It reminds us not only of what he has done, but to what standard he measures. It is as if God were saying to us, "this is the sacrifice that I consider holy.” It is clear that as human beings we cannot measure up to God's standard. It is also clear that we do not need to; Christ has done for us. Therefore, as you take communion today remember his standard of holiness — and the length to which he went to enable us to meet that standard.

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