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Communion Meditations (2018)


Cup of Demons

Originally scheduled for March 18

Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
(1 Corinthians 10:16)

The problem that Paul is addressing here is one which Christians have not had directly for the last 1500 years. Most of the people in his time were pagans, and it was a common practice that they would sacrifice meat on the altar of one of their pagan gods or goddesses. It was considered perfectly ordinary for the priest or priestess then to take the meat, after a small amount had been burnt, and sell it in the marketplace. When you went down to buy meat, you couldn’t tell the difference between meat that was sacrificed to an idol and meet which was procured in the ordinary butcher shop way. In another passage Paul gives the advised that you should go ahead and eat whatever is put in front of you, without asking whether or not it was sacrificed. But if somebody tells you it was, don’t eat it.

That’s not what he’s talking about here. He’s talking about people who participate in the Lord’s Supper and then go out and partake of the benefits of sacrifices to idols. The problem, if you can’t see it, is simply one of hypocrisy. A Christian’s liberty is often curtailed because it presents the wrong impression to a non-Christian nearby. Yes, that means we care what “they” think. It may seem inconvenient, but it might also be an action which would bring someone to Christ.

There is a modern equivalent of this; in fact, there are many. They are rather more specific to your personal situation. There is, for example, a place that a good Christian should not go — let’s suppose it’s a strip club — and joining “the boys” tells them that you don’t take your Christianity very seriously. Whether or not you could go there I leave to you; whether or not you should go there with your buddies is another question entirely. It may not be a place; it may be something you do. It’s something that shows that you have made a choice in favor of the world’s way of doing things. But you have already made that choice. Only Christians should take communion.

The Christian is to be “not of this world.” There is no sitting on the fence; you’re either a Christian or you aren’t. Communion is the meal that proclaims you are a Christian. If you proclaim you are a Christian on Sunday and then on Monday through Saturday do with the world’s way, you are a hypocrite. Your fellow Christians might not see it, but your coworkers and friends will. You can’t do both.

Therefore, consider well what you do during the week before you take communion. Jesus, during his earthly ministry, reserved his physical anger for those who were hypocrites. He is no more fond of them today than then. Taking the cup of his blood and the bread of his body says that you proclaim yourself a Christian — and not just on Sunday morning. There may even be those among us who should let this communion pass by until they have reconciled with the Lord. For the rest of us, it is always good to examine ourselves and take in a worthy manner.


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