Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent
Though worship consists of five elements that worshipers may or may not participate in during every assembly of the saints, the one aspect of worship receiving the most attention on Sunday, at least, is the Lord’s Supper (aka Communion or Eucharist). One might say this is because the observance of the Lord’s Supper is exclusive to Sunday, or should be. However, I think we forget that giving of our means was commanded on every Sunday as well (1 Corinthians 16.1-2). So, it is not the relative rarity of this action compared to singing, prayer, and Bible study, making it precious to us. Instead, it is the purpose and meaning of the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper is an item of worship that is horizontal and vertical in its scope; it is something done to demonstrate our relationship with God and our fellow Christian. Though not as often referenced concerning the Lord’s Supper as 1 Corinthians 11.23ff, Paul highlights the communal aspect of the Lord’s Supper in chapter 10. He states that we cannot partake of the elements of the Lord’s Supper with our Lord and likewise eat and drink at the table of “demons” (10.21).
Contextually, Paul’s words refer to the issue of dining in a pagan venue, even while professing that pagan gods are not real. The Corinthian Christians could not engage in activity, implying they shared the same faith with pagans. Even if they knew that those gods were not real, they created misunderstanding among the pagans and other Christians. So, while we commemorate our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection with the Lord’s Supper, we share in the same hope and devotion towards the same.
Yet there is another characteristic of the Lord’s Supper, making it precious to us. The Lord’s Supper provides us with the opportunity to evangelize. Paul states that this memorial feast is one we will keep until our Lord returns (1 Corinthians 11.26). And the very fact that we engage ourselves in its observance proclaims “the Lord’s death.”
I am mindful of the opportunity presented by the Passover to fathers in their children’s instruction (Exodus 12.24-27). When the children asked, “Why do we observe this rite?” the fathers could explain the Passover and God’s deliverance of the children of Israel. So likewise, the child or visitor may ask, “Why do you observe the Lord’s Supper?” Or “Why do you observe the Lord’s Supper weekly?” In response to these questions, we can proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Despite being viewed as the “centerpiece” of the Sunday assembly, it seems odd how swiftly some congregations seem to fly through their observance of the Lord’s Supper. As it is a door to evangelism, one would think we should linger longer therein. Not only would the time of special communion be extended, but it could serve to plant seeds in good soil, which, if watered by Bible study, will enable God to provide an increase.
So, next Sunday, as we observe the Lord’s Supper, let us remember everything making it a memorable feast, including personal introspection (1 Corinthians 11.29-31). We will demonstrate our fellowship with our brethren and the Lord. And we can use the time evangelistically. Therefore, let us provide non-Christians an opportunity to learn about the Gospel as we partake of the bread and drink the cup.