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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Abusing the Lord's Supper

By Bill Jackson

    In looking into 1 Corinthians 11, we have these words from the apostle to help us see Corinth’s condition as regards to worship:
1. Coming together for the worse (v. 17).
2. Coming together in a divided state (v. 18).
3. Coming together with an allegiance to men (v. 19).
4. Coming together with no thought as to the significance of the supper (v. 20).
5. Coming together in mixing their common meal items in with worship (vv. 21-22).
6. Coming together with no discernment of the body of the Lord, and thus their participation was in an unworthy manner (vv. 27-29).
    The apostle indicates a great spiritual sickness in their midst, with some of them actually “in death” (v.30). The wonderful privilege of worship was being abused, perverted and mishandled. We must continually examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5), in this and in every way, that we insure that our worship will be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
    But we want to speak of the abuse of the Lord’s Supper in our own time, and in some particular ways wherein we should now stop and examine ourselves with a determination to improve. We make mention of these points regarding the abuse just noted:
1. We abuse the Lord’s Supper when there is no anticipation of worship. The Christian is a worshiper, and worship is to be a great and continual part of his life. Yes, “exhort one another” (Heb. 10:25). The Supper is mentioned as a rallying cause of the saints on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). If the Supper is meaningless to us as we think of it, and as we approach the observance of it, it will be meaningless as we partake as well.
2. We abuse the Supper if we have the view that “this is all that matters.” There are five avenues of worship, and if five are necessary, then all five are important. There has been too much of an attitude that says, “Just so I get the Lord’s Supper!” For all its importance, it is not ALL IMPORTANT! It is fruitless to be half-hearted in all other worship, and then to try to be of a spiritual mind when it is time to observe the Supper.
3. We abuse the Supper if we think that observance somehow makes up for the time misspent in sin, indifference and carelessness. Not one word is said in the New Testament about the Lord’s Supper affecting “cleansing” for the disobedient child of God! If he is unfaithful to God, he is in no better position to partake of the Lord’s Supper than he is to sing or pray. Without making proper correction in life, he only adds sin to sin in going through the motions of Lord’s Supper observance.
4. We abuse the Supper if we so spend the week or weekend in fun and games, perhaps on vacation, and just barely squeeze in time to make a service, arriving late and nearly to the point of exhaustion, and we do manage to “get the Supper.” Body and mind in such shape for worship is needed to worship “in spirit” — with spirit and understanding (I Cor. 14:15). It is an abuse of all worship, and not just the Supper, when I can BARELY find an hour to give to God!
5. Finally, one of the most flagrant abuses is on the part of those who willfully absent themselves on Sunday mornings, and then will rise to partake on Sunday evenings as if some matter beyond their control blocked them that morning. We know that sicknesses and emergencies arise, but we are thinking of the willful absence, and then the Sunday evening partaking, as if God would subsidize the negligence. This is an abuse of the purpose and intent of the Lord’s Supper — a memorial with significance for Spiritual people!
     May we examine ourselves in this avenue of worship, and in all others, that we will truly worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and that our coming together be for The Better! (I Cor. 11:17).

- Bill Jackson (Deceased); via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org [Brother Chumbley made this appropriate note: "These words from the late brother Jackson should be kept in mind as regards to the Lord’s Supper that we partake in a worthy manner (I Corinthians 11:27)]

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