Todays readings… Exodus 39&40, Psalm 102, 1 Corinthians 10
In Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians we have come to where he refers to the memorial emblems, he stresses that their participation in these should be in a way that illustrates their unity. Paul has made several points very strongly in earlier chapters addressing issues that were seriously undermining their unity in Christ: their lack of harmony worried him very much.
Their coming together to remember that Christ died for them needed to take place in an atmosphere of genuine unity – but it wasn’t. To start with some were influenced by the surrounding spirit of idol-worshipping, but “…. beloved flee from idolatry” [10 v.14] wrote Paul..
He appeals to them, “I speak to sensible people, judge for yourselves what I say.” [v.5] Do we ourselves make sensible judgements? The situation for us is not completely different. Paul says, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not the participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body …” [v.15-7]
The verses which follow indicate some had a problem leaving behind the pagan practices they had previously enjoyed, Paul says to them, “You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy?” [v.21,22] In ch. 5 he made the point, “Christ is our Passover … let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven … of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” [7,8]
In Ch. 11 we will read that “anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself” [v.29] He does not mean – discerning his own body – but the body of Christ and their responsibility to his or her fellow believers. Paul told the Philippians he wanted to “hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit and one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” [1 v.27]
This precious oneness is demonstrated each time we meet for fellowship. There have been the rare occasions when a member of another church has been present who has taken offence at not being offered the emblems! But this is an opportunity to lovingly point out that when the church was first established on the Day of Pentecost, those baptised “devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and fellowship and the breaking of bread …” [Acts 2 v.42] What is the Apostles teaching? Do they (do we) properly “discern the Lord’s body” when we participate? If we are of one mind as to that teaching and are baptised – our participation in the body of Christ will a great spiritual joy.. Let us make sure we ourselves are fully devoted to this teaching and the way of life it leads to.