My Thoughts. . .
Monday, November 11, 2019
Misunderstandings may create unwanted fears. How many Christians fearfully partake of the Lord’s supper? Although Paul was correct in his statements, some pulpits may introduce those in the pew to a misunderstanding rather than the truth. They may be honestly presented, but contain conclusions void of God’s message.
Paul stated, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Corinthians 11:29 KJV). What does “discerning” mean? The wrong kind may lead to trouble.
Parents attempt to keep two or three preschoolers quiet, seated, little hands off the bread and fruit of the vine, and partake without misunderstanding what Paul meant by that word. An honest preacher may infer that one’s attention must be 100% on Jesus’ sacrifice during the partaking in order to fulfill Paul’s requirements. In those Sunday wrestling matches, both parents are concerned whether or not they have met that requirement. Were they completely focused on communion or distracted by a squirming child? If distracted, have they brought damnation to themselves? Would it be better to stay at home? What about an older saint with arthritic fingers concentrating on not dropping anything while partaking? Is that disciple guilty of a divided “discerning” between the physical and the spiritual? What about the men who serve the audience? They usually partake “on the go”! Where is that kind of partaking found?
More than one minister has missed the context of this passage. Most of us desire perfection, whether in the pulpit or in the pew, but that desire is never rewarded, and the expectation is impractical. Our human frailties attend those assemblies with us. Misunderstandings can cause doubts which result in guilt, and reward one with grief.
Paul used three words in this passage which are “unworthily,” “damnation,” and “discerning.” The Corinthian church had a divided loyalty to four teachers: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, and Christ (1:10-13). This division was the foundation where most of the Corinthian’s faith was built. As one reads 11:17-34 he sees how this thought process invaded the communion. Some refused to wait on others. Some would not share their bread or fruit of the vine. This refusal caused some to leave the assembly hungry while others over indulged and lost their sobriety (v.21). This attitude points to Paul’s use of the word “unworthily.” That action resulted in the “damnation” leading to their failed “discerning.” That attitude is not found in a couple wrestling with small children or an older saint concentrating upon his handling of the communion.
Today some disciples may read our culture and “expedients” into a passage. When that is done, the first century action and purpose may be totally lost. The individual may believe he is restoring New Testament Christianity by such insertions. That is his mistake. Believing something is true because we do it isn’t God’s standard. Just because a practice can be traced back several generations does not make it truth. When we believe the way we do something is biblical and must not be changed, we may be acting more like the Pharisees than we are as disciples of Jesus!
To have the right discernment, one must make sure that it originates from God rather than man. Remember, we who are preachers aren’t infallible just because we stand and speak from the pulpit or sit and write in front of a computer monitor!