One Body One Life

One Body One Life

One Body – One Life

. I Corinthians 11:28-29: “But let a man examine himself, and in this way eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For the one who eats and drinks in the wrong manner brings judgment upon himself, for he doesn’t discern the Lord’s body.” (my paraphrase)

. Communion is a sacrament of the Church that all Christians should observe and celebrate on a regular basis. It is meant to be a time when all of the members of a local fellowship of believers participate together in remembering in a dramatic way the fact that we only live because Christ laid down his body and poured out his life for us. It is a highly symbolic sacrament charged with great significance for the Church, and Paul stresses the fact that it is not to be observed lightly.

. But what constitutes observing this sacrament in the wrong manner? Many of those whom I have heard teaching on this subject have stressed the fact that the elements are, or are symbolic of, Christ’s own body and blood. They therefore should not be approached or handled without a sincere awareness of this truth. Others that I’ve heard have warned of the presence of unconfessed sin in a person’s life, or of an unbeliever’s partaking of something that wasn’t meant for him or her.

. I have no disagreements with the above opinions, but it was something else that made the Lord’s Supper come to life and mean something for me. I see when I look at the context of the Communion passage in I Corinthians 11 that Paul begins by pointing out the unworthy manner in which Christian brothers have been treating one another during the sacramental gathering, and he goes so far as to deny, in verse 20, that they are even celebrating the Lord’s Supper in truth. It is in this context that I see Paul speaking of partaking of the Supper in the wrong manner, and of thus incurring judgment upon one’s self.

. This is strengthened by an earlier statement that Paul had made in chapter 10: “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless the communion of the blood of Christ? For though we are many, we are one bread, one body, being all partakers of the one true bread.” (vv. 16-17) This statement brought home to me the truth that the Lord’s Supper also signifies the fellowship that we all have as members of His body. Though Christ has not destroyed our individuality (“though we are many”), yet He has brought us together into a community and a society wherein we all partake of a common life and we all relate to the same Master. We are all members of the same body, and when one member suffers, the whole body is adversely affected (ch. 12:26), and we all should have the same sincere concern for one another’s needs (12:25).

. I therefore think that the most unworthy manner in which we can partake, or “fellowship,” in the body of Christ is one in which we fail to discern other members of His body. When we fail to realize that a fellow member is suffering, or has need, and when we fail to do all that we can to alleviate his problem. Or even worse (and therefore rightly bringing judgment upon us), when we are the cause of such suffering or need.

. Christ wants for us to be so important to one another that in a very real sense we are parts of one another. Our relationships with one another should be healing, intimate and growth-producing. Though we are individuals, we are not meant to be completely independent, nor totally dependent, but rather, interdependent. We need each other, and are needed by one another. To discern the Lord’s body, for me, is to fully understand these truths about my relationships with His people.

Charles Shelton
Computers for Christ – Chicago

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