A moment’s reflection should show us that God’s standards are much too low. He has graciously invited to this Table all sorts of disreputable people. When He tells us in His Word that we should show hospitality to those who cannot repay us, we need to remember that this is something which He has already done.
With this thinking, centered on the concern for God’s low standards, a false zeal for His holiness tempts us. We think that He will be defiled through association with people who need Him, and so we discourage repentant sinners from coming to the Table, for they might not be repentant enough. Another way we do this is when we withdraw the Table in a sectarian way, and make it a reward for the spiritually elite.
Now this bread and this wine are to be withheld from those who are sinning with a high hand. Those whose faces are sleek and insolent, who believe that God does not see their wickedness, who believe that this meal is somehow their automatic birthright, must be denied. Those who have been communing their whole childhood, but who have decided to pursue an impure life on the side, must be warned off. Certainly, from those who pursue their adulteries, who bow down to idols, who blaspheme the name of God, we must withhold this sacred meal. The one sin that cannot come is impudence.
But the disconsolate must come. The discouraged must come. The one who has failed, confessed, and wept seven times in one day must come. The battered must come. The conflicted must come. The guilty must come. The one who struggles with ingratitude must come. Those in such dire straits cannot be told often enough that this bread and wine is not a reward for being good, it is grace for those who want to learn how to stop being bad.
So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.
“The one sin that cannot come is impudence.”
Who among you is worthy to sit in judgment of the impudent? Who are you to say when someone has repented enough? Are tears 7 times a day enough for you? Do you want groveling?
Truth be told, I’d rather take communion alone than with those sinners so religious minded, so holier than thou, that they can only see the impudence of others and not their own.
MeMe, if I had a parishioner who would not stop abusing his wife, and wanted to come to the Table anyway, we would forbid him. We would forbid him for the impudence — and you would support us, right? Even though someone might ask all the questions that you just raised?
I would not agree with that. Using the Lord’s cup as discipline does not work for me. Didn’t Jesus break bread with Judas himself?
Memi, as usual, my take is that you and our host have less of a dispute than it might first appear. As for “judging” who is able to take communion, per the Wilson quote below, you and Wilson seem to be on the same page. Wilson: “We think that He will be defiled through association with people who need Him, and so we discourage repentant sinners from coming to the Table, for they might not be repentant enough. Another way we do this is when we withdraw the Table in a sectarian way, and make it a reward for the… Read more »
I agree Adad, I have no real conflict with Pastor Wilson, or at least I believe he should be free to do what he thinks is right. I actually would break bread with Dalrock. And even wife abusers,pedophiles, or any other manner of sinner. I suppose I would squawk if it was being taken casually, irreverently, not done in rememberance of Him, but thoughtlessly or ritualistic. That would certainly get my gander up. There is some controversy over Judas, although him being present appears established to me in 3 of the gospels. Near as I can tell, John agrees, since… Read more »
Doug, my current church, Park Street Church, teaches that the principle Jesus spoke in Matt. 5:23-24 applies to communion as well. (aka Reconcilliation before communion.) Any thoughts?
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
I think the principle can and should be extended to communion.
My tone sounds a bit shrill. Sorry about that. I have just seen way too many communion mishaps that have actually driven people out of the church and away from faith itself entirely.
I don’t mean to imply that happens at Pastor Wilson’s church or that the people there would be motivated by anything besides a desire to protect the table.
I would take communion with just about anyone, as long as it was being done in remembrance of Him and with some reverence. There probably are some casual or ritualistic handlings that would give me pause.
Whew! for a minute there, I was worried!
But now it sounds like we all conform to God’s (very) low Standards! ; – )
Thank you for this one.
I once had a chaplain who had a very different demeanor than I am used to when leading communion, which he did weekly. He spoke of it with joy and said it was a feast for sinners. That changed my whole outlook. Your article reminds me of this. All too often in church it seems somber, with the warning from Corinthians not to partake in an unworthy manner. This causes me to become introspective about all my sins, and I try to think of any sin I may have committed, knowingly or unknowingly, and repent of it. Then I feel… Read more »
@My Portion Forever — If you click on the tag “The Lord’s Table,” you can read through hundreds of Doug’s communion meditations. Coming joyfully to the Supper is a frequent theme. Not being introspective is a frequent theme. We confess our sins at the beginning of the service, so we come to the table already cleaned up, we come welcomed and delighted in, so we can sit down and enjoy sweet communion with our Lord and His people.
Thank you. I have read many of them, and this one struck me as particularly welcoming and joyful in the gospel!
You would probably like the recently published devotional book that compiled hundreds of these: http://canonpress.com/devotional