October 3, 2014
I Corinthians 11:26-32
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Our featured scripture comes from what is known as ‘The Communion Chapter,’ I Corinthians 11. So, while it has to do specifically with “…the Lord’s Supper…” (I Corinthians 11:20), there are other applications. Today we will look at What Are We Proclaiming? from I Corinthians 11:25 through 32:
…as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s
death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup
of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of
the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread,
and drink of that cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner
eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For
this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we
would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged,
we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
It is serious business, this matter of the Lord’s Supper, because we are proclaiming “…the Lord’s death till He comes…” again in glory. So every time we celebrate communion – or the eucharist, in some traditions – we are actually preaching about the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, the resurrection also! For only of a living Lord can it be said, “…till He comes…”!
And we had better do it carefully! The Corinthian Christians were not celebrating the Lord’s Supper carefully! In I Corinthians 11:18, 20 through 22, Paul chastises them for giving Christianity a bad name:
I hear there are divisions among you….Therefore when you come together
in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes
his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.
What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the
church of God and shame those who have nothing?
The Lord Himself said in John 13:34 and 35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another…” – with the same kind of love, Jesus said, “…as I have loved you…” – unselfish agape love! But those in the church at Corinth were selfish, thinking only of themselves.
What is the result of such selfish thinking – especially when it has to do with such a holy thing as the Lord’s Supper? Paul warned, “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” (I Corinthians 11:30). Many were sick, and some had even died! God will not put up with those who profess to be His followers acting like holiness doesn’t really matter! He will even take them out of this life rather than have His holy name blasphemed by unholy actions!
You see, our actions as Christians loudly preach the Lord to those around us! The oft-quoted admonition “Do as I say, not as I do!” reflects this. Our preaching – actions as well as words agreeing with each other – must be grounded in the truth!
It goes well beyond celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Jesus called out the legalistic Jewish leaders in Matthew 23:2 and 3 on this very issue:
The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they
tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their
works; for they say, and do not do.
And Paul addressed the same issue in Philippians 2:14 and 15:
Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that you may become blame-
less and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and
perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world….
The fact that we “…shine as lights in the world…” is an unconditional statement. We will shine no matter what! We will witness by our words and actions no matter what! (See the blog of April 4, 2013 called Black Light Christians).
So What Are We Proclaiming? May it be the message of the gospel – true to the Word of God, and pleasing to the Lord.