No discussion about experiencing God through our sense of taste would be complete without talk of what communion means to Christians. But God knows this is a tough nugget for me. One of those hard truths I’ll likely chew on until the day I die.
When Communion Brings Division to Christians
Perhaps because people I love and respect, people I know love Jesus wholeheartedly fall on all sides of this issue, I’ve grown particularly sensitive to it. And it pains me that Satan has twisted this teaching to aggravate and divide the Church over and over again.
My heart aches knowing dear friends and family are excluded from my communion rail and I am not welcome at their table. Friends I’ve invited to church have felt shunned because they aren’t allowed to partake of The Lord’s Supper, ostracized because their children or spouses cannot share the meal with them, or embarrassed by awkward conversations with Pastors they don’t know yet. My family and I have even felt unwelcome to receive communion when visiting a church of our own denomination because of the strong language in the bulletin regarding the practice.
Articles from all sides of the issue aggressively assault opposing views. And some of them are downright un-Christian-like in their commentary. Defendants of close or closed communion insist we must protect the sanctity of Scripture in its entirety by only allowing those whose views match ours to commune together. Yet I’ve known Pastors from the same denomination who don’t agree on the meaning of every dot and tittle. While I enjoy the unity of close communion, I am not so naive as to believe that every single person who has ever stood there with me has interpreted every single passage of the Bible exactly the same way I or the Pastors there have. So I have to wonder if we are missing the Spirit of the law by presuming to adhere to the letter.
Letter or Spirit of Communion
My heart grieves for those who feel left out by the practice of close communion. That somehow, for the sake of unity in the Body of Christ we’ve tumbled head-long into exclusion. I wonder if we miss the Spirit of the practice when I consider that Jesus didn’t exclude His Apostles who couldn’t have comprehended His full meaning during His last supper. Nor did He ban those He already knew would betray Him, which was all 12 though not all as famously as Judas.
But perhaps this issue is of such importance that it bears fierce protection.
These devil-fueled divisions develop doubt and dissension in a practice intended to create and connect a community of Christ-followers. The very notion that controversy over partaking of Christ’s body and blood which He gave freely for believers’ forgiveness and inclusion in His family would be used as a stumbling block to those desiring a home in the Body of Christ confounds me.
But for such a crucial and controversial practice, we often come to it through simple means—what our parents believed, what we were taught as children, what the church that finally made us feel at home teaches, or what the one we marry has been taught. Desiring fellowship on a spiritual level with these important people in our lives is commendable and not to be taken lightly. After all, God established families with husbands as the head and the churches lead by Pastors and Priests and Ministers as a means for perpetuating and protecting the message of Christianity.
Throughout the centuries, sharing a meal has been a great unifier of people. Breaking bread and sharing salt created lasting bonds of kinship and sealed covenants. God instituted feasts and festivals to bring His people together to fellowship, to sacrifice, to offer, to remember. And all these find their fulfillment in Christ. Perhaps none more so than Passover. And it was at a Passover meal with His closest followers that Jesus instituted what we call today The Lord’s Supper.
Questions Regarding Communion
As I’ve wrestled with and researched for this post, the only definitive conclusion I have arrived at is that I’m only smart enough to know I don’t have all the answers. So, today I offer you the questions I’ve been asking myself and some Scriptural references for your own study.
I would be thrilled to hear your views and beliefs in the comments. I have the notion that many a church-goer hardly understands what their church practices at communion or realizes other denominations may practice it differently, let alone why. I’m not here to shame any point of view, but simply to shed a little light on why some believe what they do and expand our mutual understanding in hopes that if you find yourself in a church where you feel unsettled or unwelcome at the rail, perhaps you’ll be equipped with some questions you can ask yourself or discuss with the Pastor. Click on each verse reference for a link to that verse.
Didn’t Jesus die for the whole world?
What did Jesus say when He instituted The Lord’s Supper?
What kind of bread is he talking about?
How important was this teaching to Jesus?
What happened when the post-resurrection Jesus broke bread with His followers?
Is there a wrong way to participate in communion?
Is communion more than just a meal of remembrance?
Are we re-crucifying Christ by participating in communion?
If we can’t earn grace why would it be withheld?
Was communion originally intended to be a meal of unity among the Body of Christ?
What other questions do you have?Do you know where to look in the Bible for the questions you have about communion? Find out here... #communion #experiencinggod Click To Tweet
Communion is a Foretaste by Faith
By faith, I believe I consume more than mere bread and wine when I partake of The Lord’s Supper, that present there with the bread and wine is the body and blood of Jesus Christ. I know these physical elements are not sufficient in and of themselves to feed me bodily, but I also know that without them I lack the spiritual fortitude I enjoy when I taste them regularly. It is the most profound way I experience God through the sense of taste He gave me.
While communion is a critical element of Christianity, practicing it differently doesn’t make any of us less Christian. Do I believe every word of the Bible is the true, inspired Word of God? Absolutely. Do I believe we all possess the same ability to understand it? Absolutely not. Do I believe my (or anyone else’s) salvation hinges on the ability to comprehend God’s Word completely? Absolutely not!
And therein lies the comfort for me. I have a feeling we’re all going to be surprised by the truth about plenty of things we thought we knew when we meet Jesus face to face. Until the day when all believers finally partake of the feast with Jesus in His Father’s kingdom, we ought to fervently examine ourselves against God’s Word and experience the foretaste of communion in a faith-filled manner that connects our Spirits to Christ and feeds our souls for His work here on earth.Until the day when all believers finally partake of the feast with Jesus in His Father’s kingdom, we ought to fervently examine ourselves against God’s Word and experience the foretaste of communion in a faith-filled manner that connects… Click To Tweet
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Faith On Fire, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Soul Survival, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday, Salt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday, Moments of Hope