Sunday, June 19, 2011

Communion..Heresy...Disunity...Putting the Body of Christ Back Together

I spent some precious time with Dr John Roberts in Tennessee. He's a facebook friend and I took the time to meet him. It was a good investment of time.

We did what we all love to do, poured over the word of God and talked about life in Christ. Ghost Stories. While we talked I brought up the disunity in the body; how fractured the Body of Christ has become, in Churches, denominations and whole nations full of Christians scattered like sheep without shepherds. How sad that made me and how could it ever be fixed.

John took his Bible and began to read verse by verse 1 Corinthians 11, a familiar passage, and unveiled how it's less about communion and words of institution, and MORE about the need for unity. It caused me to revisit my mindset over communion and the heresies that divide the Body of Christ. I hope I can do this justice. It was seared in my spirit and mind. I have since been reading it over and over again and believe this may help someone who is dealing with such divisions and factions in his or her church:

1 Corinthians 11
17Now in this I declare unto you that I praise you not: that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
Paul is about to be hard on them. He isn't coming to this on cats paws. HE DECLARES. It would be better NOT to have church than do what they are doing. They are making people worse.

18For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and I partly believe it.
What follows is about DIVISION. Factions. And he seems to be a little sarcastic. "I PARTLY believe it". It's the divisions that are the problem and the results of them.

19For there must be also heresies among you, that those who are approved may be made manifest among you.
Those divisions are creating and root from heresies Paul says. If you don't buy into the "Party Line" you are kept out. Ostracized. Some are more equal than others. More approved. Higher status. Only certain people get to be in the places of manifest themselves. Authorized. Them and us. The big shots and the little people. We see this all the time in the Western Church. You have no trouble figuring out who the "important" are.

20When ye therefore come together into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper.
Paul seems to say, you are doing in church what you want to do, not to the Lord's purposes...but to some other end. To some selfish end. To fulfil a private agenda. It's division.

21For in eating, every one taketh his own supper ahead of another, and one is hungry and another is drunken.
People are being extravagant, ostentatious, selfish, presumptuous and others have nothing to bring. The haves exclude the have nots. Holy Chairs. That creates division as well. Sometimes the behavior in these situations ends up being just plain glutinous in it's excess. Like people who are drunk on power, on money, on position, on status. Division.

22What? Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the church of God, and shame those who have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not!
Paul says, if you want to act like that, all showy and such, then stay home. He seems to run out of words of indignation. He certainly is very unimpressed with the attempts at being impressive that is going on in churches. There is real anger in this verse. DESPISE and SHAME are strong words. He's about to try to show them what they are doing. Verse 23 is naked without the prior verses...

23For I have received from the Lord that which also I delivered unto you: that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread;
Paul says...there was division, betrayal, on the very night HE ate his last meal before the cross with his disciples. This was the night of John 13-17 events, impartations and prayers. The focus of this passage in John is servanthood and unity. This is no different. Paul is trying to help them see how the actions they are taking are not unlike what was so wrong that night...Judas.

24and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me."
Here's what I had never considered before. There is so much Greek interpretation and theological seminary teaching over this verse we may have missed one simple approach to what Jesus said. He said. Do this to RE MEMBER ME. Since the issue is dis unity. DIS MEMBERMENT has taken place in the body. People have been cut off. There is a Need to RE Member. The Body of Christ, even today, is Dis Membered in many ways. Heresies. Power. Position. We need to RE Member Christ's body. We are his body. We need being put together again.

25In the same manner also He took the cup when He had supped, saying, "This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me."
The Blood shed by Jesus wasn't taken from him, it was given. He gives it now. We RE Member Him when we are brought together in UNITY.

26For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death until He come.
This is not to be considered without understanding that a monstrous price has been paid, GOD sacrificed himself, we show not ourselves..but HIM who Comes. We have nothing to boast other than Christ and him Crucified.

27Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
What is unworthily? When it is done for show. When it is done in division. "I hate you but I come to the communion table anyway. I disagree with you on everything but I take part in obligation". That is unworthy.

What is Jesus is saying we should do? We need to come to RE MEMBER his DIS MEMBERED body. In an old fashioned WELS church I couldn't take communion. I am DIS MEMBERED. Catholic and Orthodox as well. I confess, in unity with them from time to time I have taken communion. I want to be RE MEMBERing. That is Worthy. Looking at the the John seems to be. It is one reason that I am no fan of church MEMBERSHIP. It makes this situation worse, not better. I can't change the culture of Church...but I can speak against this weakness in it.

28But let a man examine himself, and then let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.
IF I really look in the mirror I see myself for who I am...I see that I am not in total unity with those I do love and should love in the Body. I might not agree with everything that is done. I might not be together on everything they teach...but I can be ONE with them...just as Jesus Prayed I would be.

29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
NOW the crunch comes. IF we are going to insist on our "us four and no more" mentality we bring damnation on our selves. We entered into this and never saw how DIS membered the Body really is. How continuing to tolerate and even encourage this "them and us" mindset that has destroyed so many good fellowships. I know of a strong fellowship that created a Lords Supper meal that was so exclusive it was by invitation only. It destroyed the ministry. I was once part of it. Unworthy.

30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
The consequence of DIS memberment is death, disease, dysfunction. People are separated from the rest and they are allowed to die off. They are considered less worthy. Disconnected. Dis membered and no one cares. The body is NOT being the Body of Christ. Just a cliquey country club. People dying all around and the body does nothing.

31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
Paul is saying, you should be able to spot this yourself. You wouldn't need me to come point this out. Look at your life. Look at your fellowship. Look at what is going on. Is there Dis Memberment..or is there REMEMBERANCE going on. Are people being brought in or kept out.

32But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
Paul now heals...this was a chastening. God Chastens those he loves. He loves them. They have by their divisions and heresies become no better than the world..but by their repentance will find that they don't have to be condemned. There is therefore NO Condemnation for those who have been RE MEMBERED into Christ.

33Therefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
Here's the crux of unity. Preferring one another. Waiting for. Seeing goodness. Caring. Building up. Taking Time. It's harder work than standing with a microphone and an I-pad or a guitar...but it's the call of God for the Church as the time draws near of great trouble.

34And if any man hunger, let him eat at home, that ye come not together unto condemnation.
Last, how you are at home..Paul says, I have no influence over. BUT when you are together....STAY in RE MEMBERANCE. There is enough DIS MEMBERANCE going on in the world outside our your fellowship. Don't bring it in and stain, condemn, the Body of Christ.

This was a great time of revelation for ME in this. I believe that seeing this familiar passage in the light of RE Membering the Body of Christ may build the kind of Unity we all want.

That is the Word of the Lord to someone. It was for me.


Anonymous said...

Right on-I left the "church" because I was made to feel like I was looking at things "from the outside looking in"-kinda like that kid would had his nose pressed up on the window at the bakery when he hadn't eaten for a week. Disassociated. Disassembled. Disjointed. Dissed again and again period.

Now God's changed me "from the inside out" and He's getting me back into the real Bride. Power, pride and ego all fall (a horrible death btw). Unity, building up and love never will fail. Why? Because those are parts of the heart of God.

Ron McK said...

This was not communion or a felloship meal after church. This was the main meal of the day. Those who were hungry went to work hungry the next day. Actually, they probably did not go to work, because they had none. The real problem was that this church was not supporting each other during difficult times. That is what discerning the body means. It is not mystical. It is rubber meets the road stuff.