Celebrate the Gospel [1 Corinthians 11]

28But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.29For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly 30For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.31But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.32But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.33So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.34If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.

In this passage Paul addresses yet another problem among this group of believers.  They have taken the beautiful reminder of the gospel - the Lord's supper - and have turned it into a selfish feast.  What a travesty.  They had distorted a very precious observance that Jesus left His body of believers. One that should cause them to worship together in unity, in love, in remembering what a sacrifice it was for their Savior to give His life for them but instead it is causing huge divisions among them.

It is interesting that in my own life I have misunderstood this passage and my misunderstanding has produced the same result as it did for the Corinthian church - a distortion of this beautiful reminder of the gospel.  In the past I have thought that this passage was teaching that I should examine myself for any sin that might be in my life before I took the Lord's supper.  In so doing, I would spend that time in retrospective repentance and fear, not a celebration of remembering together with my sisters and brothers what a great forgiveness we have through Christ's death and resurrection.

Now as I understand this passage in the context I see that it is dealing with a very specific problem - the misuse of the Lord's table that causes the body of Christ to be torn apart.  God cares deeply about His people and desires them to be connected together as the bride of Christ.  Thankfully, He will discipline His children "so we will not be condemned along with the world."

Remember the Lord's death until He comes and be filled with gratitude for what that means in your life:
    - not only forgiveness but "no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus." 
    - now "the Spirit's law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Romans 8:1-2, Holman CSB)

May you, by the Spirit, live in that freedom today and really celebrate in unity with your Christian family the next time you observe the Lord's supper.
Verna McCrillis, 12/1/2008
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Verna McCrillis 12/01/2008 20:26
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Allison Stusse 12/01/2008 20:38
thanks for the reminder that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus and for the insight that the cross finished the job and we need not reflect on every sin in order to celebrate the communion
Deidre Terry 12/04/2008 06:26
I too have always understood that passage as examining myself for any sin that might be present before taking the Lord's supper. Because of that, my response during communion has always been one heavy on remorse, mixed with a lightly sprinkled bit of thankfulness for what Christ has done.

It seems that even the way we go about communion is rather solemn, not so much a celebration of remembering. But, if I am really believing all of the scripture that speaks of who I am now in Christ, then it would seem that my response would be one more of celebration than sorrow.

Christ's sacrifice is a gift to me. As I sat here remembering different precious gifts that have been given to me, such as my wedding ring set that Jeff had remade last year, it brings a smile to my face. I'm sure I've been given many gifts that I can not easily recall. There is no joy in not remembering. So, it makes me ponder: If I am not remembering the wonderfullness of what Christ gift was and is to me then maybe that would explain my solemness during communion. I think, before communion this Sunday, I'm going to review what scripture says I was before Christ and what I am now because of Christ and "CELEBRATE" this Sunday.

Thanks again Verna! :)
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