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Communion Meditations (2006)

Line in the Sand

Originally delivered January 29

The book of James assures us that Elijah was a man just like us.  That seems a little dubious to us, for the most memorable moment in his life came at Mt. Carmel.  You remember the scene:  one prophet of the Lord vs. 850 for Baal.  The prophets of Baal dance themselves silly to call down his fire from heaven.  When Elijah and the crowd watching have had enough, Elijah gets his turn.  You will remember how the offering was drenched with water—and then God sent fire from heaven.

How was this Elijah “a man like us?”  Certainly not in the sense of being able to call down fire from heaven.  He was like us in one respect, however:  he knew where the Great Divide lay.  That division separates the church from the world.  He challenged the crowd with it:  how long would they “halt between two opinions?”  Most of us don’t like that kind of challenge.  We want to go through life without great conflict, just getting by and leaving that challenge to someone with a degree in theology.  But the Lord presents that Great Divide to us each time we take Communion.

You will recall, of course, that after that little incident the queen, Jezebel, threatened to have his head removed.  He did what most of us would do:  he ran.  What he did NOT do was to reach a reasonable compromise with the other side.  So it is with us:  righteousness can make no compromise with evil.

Some of us try do to that.  We are proud of our “one of the boys” carousing on Saturday night, secure in the knowledge that our bar buddies would never understand the spiritual side so well displayed the next morning.  Sunday morning, we pity those Christians who just don’t know how to live with gusto.  But the Scripture is clear:  no matter how you try, you cannot serve two masters.  The world is clear also:  any attempt to do so is hypocrisy.

See, then, how the Lord’s Supper divides us from the world.  In drinking His blood and eating His body, you invite His judgment upon you.  It is most unwise to do this lightly; did you think He would neither notice nor care?  So it is that we are encouraged to examine ourselves, confessing and repenting, so that when you take the Lord’s Supper you do so as a repentant sinner—not a pious hypocrite. 

You are in the world, but not of the world.  Taking Communion proclaims the Lord’s death until He comes again.  By taking it, you pronounce yourself a sinner who believes that His Atonement is your salvation.  Let your words suit your action;  meditate on your sinful state, ask forgiveness and proclaim to the world and to the church just which side you are on.

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