Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
Observation: None of us stand before the table of Holy Communion by our own worthiness and merit.
Application: I have seen this particular scripture so misunderstood so many times, I have to admit saying about these verses "I wish Paul had never written them." I know that to some that probably makes me sound even more heretical than before, (haha) still, I can’t help but to think that if Paul knew how people would interpret this, and how these words would hold so many good Christians back from allowing themselves a wonderful and spiritual experience, he might have wrote them in a different way, or maybe not at all. Perhaps had he known, he would have whispered them into the ear of the the one who delivered the letter and told him to let the church leaders hear this extra word but to keep it only to themselves.
There are a couple of things we have to understand here I think.
First of all, we must realize that Paul was addressing a very specific problem within the Corinthian community, and the problem was not concerning the sacrament of Holy Communion as we would know it and practice it today. The problem was in their observances of what we would probably call a fellowship meal. People were crowding in at the front of the line, being gluttonous, grabbing all they could, and some at the end were getting nothing. It was an act of selfishness and Paul was giving them stern words that this is not the way Christians should act. He was 100% right in his correcting of this wrong attitude and behavior in that community, and they should have known better.
The problem we have in the modern church is that when people read these verses, they don’t understand it in this way. They relate it to Holy Communion (with good reason, some of the liturgy that we use is in the verses just above the warning 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.") and they think – I better examine my life and be worthy of standing up there to take communion or else I’m dooming my soul! Which brings me to the second thing we need to understand.
None of us are worthy of taking communion on our own merits. We can not be good enough to say "I am worthy of standing before the Lords table, and taking into myself his sacrificial blood, and broken body." None of us are that good! And we never will be until "That which is Perfect is Come." But the good news is, we don’t take Christ’s offering because we earn it, we take it because He offers it to us as a free gift! When we take communion, we do so recognizing our own unworthiness and taking into ourselves the free gift of God’s grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We remember this great gift that God has provided us and we accept it in faith.
If the verses of our scripture today have held you back from taking of communion because you did not consider yourself worthy. I urge you to rethink them, to meditate on them, on the environment and circumstances about which they were written, and on the fact that Communion is not for those of us who have reached perfection (because none of us have) but it is for us to remember that we need Jesus in a real way in our lives. We are not worthy because of our own actions, we are only worthy because of what Christ has done for us. It is not our righteousness that we stand on in faith, it is His righteousness that clothes us before God. And it is only our faith in Him that allows us to stand boldly before His throne.
May God Bless You today in a very special way!
Prayer: God above,
Thank you for your son Jesus and the sacrificial price that He paid on the cross for our sins. Thank you that we can stand before you on His merits and not our own. And thank you for Holy Communion, where we can remember these great things that you have done for us and by that remembering, we can receive more grace for our daily lives.