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Can We Talk About The Lord’s Supper?
I ask us to reexamine our traditions concerning the Lord’s Supper.

A Caution.

("Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape.")

If you recall, the introduction to Malachi in the NEB, my inspiration for the mission statement, included the proviso to foster zeal without also fostering a confining legalism. Legalism creates a stifling atmosphere of disapprobation and judgmentalism, but a positive devotion to Jesus will tend to avoid these things.

Disapprobation means disapproval. Some things we do well to show disapprobation to, crime, open immorality, violent and abusive behavior, and rudeness for a few examples. We are told to hold heretics and their heresy in disapprobation also, for example see Titus 3:10 . But all too often we show disapprobation for thinking that merely isn’t in line with our own, especially thinking that steps outside our denominational confines. It is very common to have what might be called a denominational accent, meaning that we tend to use certain phrasings and words in our circles, and we can tell outsiders by the way they talk. And disapprobation is all too often shown for the lives of those we don’t feel match up to our standards; does anyone really think the rich don’t get a warmer welcome than the poor. There are many levels of disapprobation found in our churches. We don’t want to foster them, we want to build ourselves up in Christ and out of any self conceits.

Then there is the matter of judgementalism. The old story of two supercilious church goers sitting in adjacent pews, discussing their less than perfect fellow church members still holds some truth for us today. It goes something like this, “One elder turns to another elder and says, ‘Brother there are none quite so holy as thee and me.’ The other replies, ‘True brother, true, but I have my doubts about thee.’ ” Judgmentalism has manifested itself in the fracturing of churches over a lack of forgiving spirits, disputes over points of theology, and self-righteousness that sees others as not holy enough to continue in fellowship with. Judgmentalism often is behind the “fruit checking” of others’ salvation. And is shown in the constant effort to refine a definitive basis to determine who is and who isn’t really saved. While it is true and necessary that we be careful about who we receive into fellowship, there is just too much judgmentalism about people different than us.

Those twins, disapprobation and judgmentalism, create a stifling atmosphere. To stifle means to smother, to quench, to silence. And that is just what happens, the Spirit of God is quenched when those that deem themselves competent to judge others create a constant atmosphere of disapproval that discourages fellowship. The only purity achieved is the purity of conceit where those who judge others, all unknowingly judge themselves.

And those twins almost always exist as a confining legalism. It may not be the technical legalism that tries to achieve righteousness through the keeping of the Jewish Law, but it is a form of legalism nevertheless. It expresses itself in self defined expectations about what a real Christian is. Those expectations may center on food, dress, a list of do’s and don’ts defining acceptable lifestyles, it may be observance of certain days, or diligent attendance at church activities. Legalism takes many forms, but it is always confining because it substitutes something in the place of the righteousness we have in Christ.

But we look for better things. It will be good to rethink worship and the Lord’s Supper. Immersing ourselves in thoughts and teachings about worship and the Lord’s Supper will have a freshening and exciting effect. Immersing ourselves in studies of worship and the Lord’s Supper must call to our remembrance, and stir up, our first love for Jesus.

©FH 2012

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