Monday, October 31, 2011
I heard some comments about communion, and had to dive in. It's been a few years since Jesus walked among man, over 1500. Since the time of Christ we've embellished things a bit : ) I can't see the Apostle Paul or Peter standing in front of a group of people, from behind a pulpit, with gold crosses on their robes, organ music playing in the background, as one of them says, "Take this cup..." I envision the apostles gathering in houses seeking refuge from persecution. They broke bread together and drank wine, remembering Jesus' sacrifice, and that death isn't the end. They had seen Jesus horrible crucifixion, and then His resurrection. Probably the last thing they wanted on top of the house was a big cross identifying it as a place where Christians gathered.
In fact, the early believers used the symbol of a fish to identify themselves to other Christians. The letters inside the fish mean "fish." They are from the Greek alphabet. They are also the first letters of these words, "Jesus, Christ, God's, Son, Savior." I wonder if the Romans wondered why they kept drawing fish : ) Times were very hard for them. Yet they gathered, having the strength and courage to continue in the faith. They were inspired to write the New Testament, even though they knew the consequences. I am so glad they did, or we would've never known. All of the disciples died as martyrs. Yet, they preached the gospel with boldness. Many sacrifices were made so we could believe.
From the New Testament we've learned, we can approach God today, because of Jesus sacrifice. Our bodies are His temple.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own... 1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV
The Church is not a building made by man. It's people who have accepted Jesus as Savior. His Church is mobile now. There isn't a single temple building for us to worship in, or a perfect denomination. He's in us.
...so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
Romans 12:5 NIV
Jesus said, "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." Matthew 18:19
Jesus has given us confidence to approach God from our homes, our cars, anywhere. By His blood we are cleansed from our guilty consciences. We have a great Priest over the worldwide Church, His name is, "Jesus." Jesus is above all, even Pastors are to serve Him.
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
We can gather together, in houses, in Church buildings, at picnics, wherever we want to. I've heard great things about Coffee Shop Bible Studies. But why should we meet? To tell each other, "You need to serve the Lord!" Without knowing what they are doing. (I've actually been approached this way at Church three times- it's like, "Uh, Hi and how are you today?") Then I explain my ministry. After that, I am acceptable. Did Jesus take a day off? Maybe my cable was down...
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
The reason to gather is so we can encourage each other, not just for formal communion. And missing a communion service is not a sin. The closer we get to the end times, the more we need to strengthen each other in love and mercy. We really need to learn how to love each other without judgement. Some ignore verses 23, 24, and part of 25, and jump to verse 26 claiming if you miss Church, you're sinning and will lose your salvation.
Should we go to Church when we are sick? Don't think so. Are we condemned if we miss? Nope! But we do miss out and we do need each other. Some people will completely give up. They will become angry and deny all they've experienced. This describes one who has received the knowledge, but not the Lord. After Christ is denied, there is no other sacrifice to save a soul. This is not the unforgivable sin, we all go through struggles with unbelief. And Jesus welcomes us back with open arms when we ask for His forgiveness.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV
These verses have been tied to the Church tradition of formal communion. To me Jesus is saying to remember His sacrifice always. I try and thank Him everyday for His sacrifice for me. It wouldn't surprise me if this is where the tradition to pray before dinner, got started. Communion at Church is very sacred and holy to me. A very wonderful thing to partake in. But this doesn't save my soul, only Jesus can.
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you..."
Luke 22:19-20 NIV
I have a little charm of a Church building hanging from my car mirror. It warms my heart to remember the people and good experiences. My first Pastor was excellent at inspiring us to read the Bible on our own. He is a great teacher (if he saw this, I'm sure he'd deny it). I attend Church whenever I can.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33 NIV