Submitted by Pastor Richard Boettner, Rock Port Baptist Church
Writing for this section of the newspaper about spiritual matters is a blessing for me. Although I hesitate at times since being spiritual for me nearly always leads me to teaching God’s Word, mentioning some topic from the Bible, and also my calling as a pastor to build the church of Jesus Christ. While some may find a spiritual relationship with God is possible apart from the church, this article today will speak of an important ordinance of the church to experience spiritual fellowship with Christ through the Lord’s Supper. As we take the bread and the cup we remember His sacrifice for us. Perhaps more than just a memorial we seek to proclaim Jesus’ death until He comes as the message of the church. We may also seek and experience enhanced fellowship or communion so that we might be strong in our service for the days ahead.
Recently teaching from 1 Corinthians has helped me develop some principles that can help our churches today as we participate in the Lord’s Supper together. Perhaps this will help a new believer understand this 2,000 year old tradition of the church that may seem odd or strange from the outside. I will list these below as they come from the passage of Scripture above 1 Corinthians 11:17-34:
The goal is to seek unity, not division, even when we have differences that could separate us. For the church at Corinth troubles had come from a tendency to follow different teachers, immorality among the people in the church, and whether to insist that Greek believers adopt the Jewish traditions of that day.
The goal is to recognize equality and not make the Lord’s Supper a time of excess celebration or exclusion of those who might differ from us. Some in Corinth were already having private suppers, apparently by invitation only.
As we take the bread and cup we also respond to the Lord’s presence remembering his Last Supper with His disciples. Implied here is that we will receive more of God’s Holy Spirit as we partake than if we did not do so.
A result also of the Lord’s Supper is to develop a greater longing for the return of Jesus. The message is that we have proclaimed the Lord’s death until He comes. This makes the message more personal, more passionate, and more likely that I will share Jesus Christ with someone else. We can also respond by giving thanks that I am closer now to the Lord’s coming and my home in heaven than I have ever been before.
The call to the Lord’s Supper is also a place for me to examine my own self and my own relationship with the Lord. Paul even mentions that some Corinthian believers had become weak and sick under God’s discipline for not examining themselves and some had already died. I should leave renewed, cleansed, strengthened, and empowered for more service. It might also be a time to remember when I first came to faith in Christ, and to reflect on changes He has made in my life. When I realize I still have shortcomings I seek His help to take me to the next step of maturity. This becomes a wonderful thing as the Holy Spirit changes me from one glory to the next place of more growth.
Finally, we seek to enhance our relationships with each other as Paul reminded the believers in Corinth that they were to see themselves as “brothers and sisters”. This is a family relationship, not merely of my choosing or convenience but one where I should feel affection, mutual commitment and responsibility.
It is a time to think of my local church as a family where I belong, where we do things together, and where all are valued and loved within the body of Christ.