Christ as Lord of the Table refers of course to the Lord’s Table, even though most of what we will consider does not connect to the Lord’s Supper directly. But, as we shall see, our life together always connects to this Table, and indirect connections are not unimportant connections. This is beause we are to see the Lord, not in the bread, but in those who eat the bread. We are to see the Lord in one another.
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another . . .” (Romans 12:9-10). “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God” (15:5-7).
Perhaps you have heard it since you were little: love one another. But the thing bears repeating, over and over again. This is because we always tend to think we have done what we have simply heard about doing.
The Bible has a lot to say about one anothering one another. When we have heard the words of Christ rightly, we comfort one another (1:12). We share the Spirit of adoption (8:15-16); we are children together. The differences between us are not to exasperate us because we are members of one another, not interchangeable units (12:4-5). We are members, not spare parts. When we treat one another right, this befits us (16:2). We are saints together. As we live together, and are spiritually-minded together, the result is life and peace (8:6). As we grow in our practical understanding, the Holy Spirit does His work in our hearts, and the love of God is shed abroad (5:3-5). So love one another.
This highlights the nature of sin. We would like to think of sin as a private indulgence. But sin is always an insult to God and to your neighbor. Because we are connected to one another, there is no such thing as sinning without harming others. Every sin is a blow to someone else’s face.
At the same time, the gospel liberates. There is no freedom in mere moralism. It is sound doctrine that strikes off your chains. So another sin we commit is that of forgetting our justification (6:4), and where exactly it is supposed to lead (6:11-14). “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (6:22). We are to bear fruit to God (7:4). We are to walk honestly in the right direction. What lies in the other direction? At some point, we will always find the sin of carousing. And in contrast to this, we are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ (13:13-14). We should consider what this teaching means, and what a threat it poses to worldliness.
The gospel teaches us how to receive one another. The subject before us is enormous, and so we can only touch some representative samples. What do we do for those who are weak in the faith? Paul says to receive those whose consciences are tender, and not in order to argue with them (14:1). As we do, we are to remember our place. The weaker brother is not really our responsibility to set straight (14:4). Other may offer God something that is wrong, but it was a well-meant offering. Let somebody be wrong, wouldja? (14:6). When Christ sits in judgment, He will not just evaluate the lives of the weaker brothers (14:10). We should all think about this and tremble. Remember to relate your doctrine of meat with your doctrine of the atonement. What issues are you right on, and where are you wrong? (14:15). Are you right about dinner but wrong about the Cross?
There is a great divide between real love and mere tolerance. In our day, these glorious principles of gospel tolerance are (not surprisingly) twisted out of all recognition. Paul says not to major on minors. Our relativistic era says we are not to major on anything, including majors. There are no majors. But Paul did not lead us into this ditch. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (16:17-18).