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The Lord's Table   

In 1st Corinthians 11:17-34 we have Paul’s teaching on Communion. There is a lot here, but I want to focus on just a couple of things. I’m also going to do so backwards, for that is how I came to understand them.

The first thing I want you to understand is the importance of keeping the Lord’s table holy and sacred. We find this in verses 23-26. The apostle Paul, by the power of the Holy Spirit of God then warns us about what happens when we do not show proper respect for the Lord’s table in verses 27-30. From that point until the end of the chapter Paul talks about judging ourselves so that we will not have to be judged by God.

Previously I had thought this all pertained to the Communion table which we come to as a church every month. When I read these instructions and warnings in context I found out that I was wrong. Let me set some things straight so people will not misunderstand me.

When we come to the Communion table, which some denominations call the Lord’s table or the table of the sacraments or Eucharist, we must come in a manner worthy of the body and blood which God presented up as a sacrifice for our sins. We must remember that Jesus, while perfect and dying upon a cross, looked down at His accusers and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This attitude, this perfection, this respect and compassion must also abide in us as we partake of the Lord’s table. We cannot come to the Lord’s table with sin in our heart and think it will not manifest itself physically in our lives. We cannot come to the table of the Lord with anger, or hostility towards anyone in our heart without risking the chance of that poison taking root and hurting our physical bodies. So when you come to church and they present the opportunity to take Communion, search your hearts. Make things right between you and God. Make things right between you and your neighbor. Jesus says in Matthew 5:23, 25, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”

Now I will come to the second point of this message, the Lord’s table is not restricted to that “sanctified” table within a church building or denomination. I had thought this for many years. I had even harbored ill towards those who did not allow their congregants to make things right with God prior to the taking of Communion. I was wrong. I was limiting God and His Word. Paul says this in this very same chapter, “For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.”

Now some of you are probably saying, “Brother Dave, we know all of that. What exactly are you trying to say?” As I was studying this portion of Scripture I was doing so from the viewpoint that we should make things right with God and man before we take Communion. I was viewing this as something we do in church, but Paul is making something clear to us. Whenever we meet together in Jesus Christ that is true church. When we gorge ourselves at the church diner, at someone’s house, or at a restaurant is not important. The important fact is that we have come together in Christ. When we do so we must not dishonor the body and blood of our Lord by eating and drinking “unworthily”. You see, whenever we come together in Him, that table is the Lord’s table. No matter what we eat that is our Communion. Or do you not remember what the word “communion” means? Do you not realize that in giving this teaching the apostle Paul uses a yearly ordinance to teach us how we should live day by day as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

I fear that many of us miss this. I know that I have for so many years. If we are walking in the Spirit and are careful of our ways then no matter where we take Communion, no matter where the Lord’s table is, whether it be in one church or another, or in a brother’s house or yes, even in a restaurant, we can come in confidence, knowing that all has already been taken care of between us and the Lord.

It’s like this, some of us “get caught off guard” when Communion Sunday rolls around. That would not happen if we were to realize that every day is the Lord’s day. Every meal is the Lord’s table. Therefore let us come together with reverence to the body Jesus broke for our sins, and for the blood which He shed for us, whenever we come together and wherever we come together. As Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) Church, my brothers and sisters, does not begin and end at the door of this building. For who could build a temple large enough for our God? No, church is wherever His people unite together in Him. The church, God’s church, takes place all over. It happens throughout each day of the week, Sunday through Saturday. We come and commune, or fellowship with those who are believers like ourselves. Let us not come into this presence and gorge ourselves while another goes hungry. Let us wait until all are served and eat together. Let us show the world the unity of God’s people by the love we share for each other. So far, I’m afraid, all they’ve been seeing is people, much like themselves, who label themselves according to this denomination or that denomination. I do not label myself as such, but in painful humiliation realize that the Creator of Heaven and earth has, through the blood of His Own Son, even Jesus, given me the power and the authority to call Him, my Heavenly Father. Realizing this I find I am covering one of four points God wishes for us to cover that He might bless us according to 2nd Chronicles 7:14.

Let us come together and remember the precious blood that Jesus shed for us. Let us remember this every time we come together, wherever that might be. And in doing so may our love for each other shine with the love and brightness of Jesus that the world may come to know Him even as we know Him, and find salvation.

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