Thursday, April 17, 2008

Committed to Communion

Committed to the Basics: Part 4

A great musician first needs to learn the notes and the scales in order to master the music. A great basketball player needs to learn how to dribble, shoot, pass, rebound, and defend before he can master the game. As followers of Jesus we have to learn and be committed to a few basic fundamentals if we are going to be successful at the task Jesus has commissioned us to accomplish (make disciples).

We find these fundamentals in Acts 2:42: They continually devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to times of prayer (ISV). I believe this verse outlines four basic fundamentals that need to be a part of our lives and the lives of our church families. The first discipline is that we have to be committed to learning. If we are not taking the time to learn God’s Word then we will not be able to know how God wants us to live. The second discipline is we need to be committed to fellowship. Life is tough and we are not going to make it through this life with our faith intact without the love, support, and encouragement of other Christians.

The third discipline that the early church was committed to was the Lord’s Supper. I want to admit that there is some debate about what exactly what the breaking of bread means. The common Greek usage means sharing a meal, but the New Testament also using the phrase to mean sharing in the Lord’s Supper. From the context it is very hard to tell what it means because we know that the early Church frequently shared meals together, and that would fit well with the idea of fellowship and having things in common.

The reason I think it is the Lord’s Supper is because I think that sharing meals would fit under fellowship, and therefore be redundant. Also, Gareth Reese in his commentary on the book of Acts (New Testament History: Acts) says that the original Greek would read the breaking of the bread which would point to something specific (given the second the) rather than just regular meals (p. 83). It would also be a very special ritual that would separate them from the Jewish religion that they had just left. The Lord’s Supper would be a constant reminder of Jesus and the New Covenant that His death and resurrection ushered in. In other words Communion helped make Jesus Christ the center of their faith.

One of the reasons that I love the Restoration Movement Churches, the faith heritage I am a part of, is the emphasis that we have put on the Lord’s Supper. This tradition, the only tradition that Jesus asked us to keep, is so vital to keeping us focused on Jesus and what He has done for us. Not only as individuals, but also as a Church Family. When done right Communion should help maintain a sense of fellowship in our church families.

In 1 Corinthians the apostle Paul wrote some guidelines about the Lord’s Supper. This is part of what he wrote:
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26; ISV)

Paul tells us that by participating in Communion we proclaim Jesus’ death. One aspect of this is that we keep the sacrifice of Jesus central. It is a focal point for our lives and our worship. The Lord’s Supper serves as a powerful remainder to the price God paid to have freed from our lives of sin.

  • Point to Ponder: Communion helps keep Jesus the center of our faith.
  • Passage to Remember: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • Question to Consider: How important is the Lord’s Supper to your life?

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