Wasting our lives and glorifying God

Wasting our lives and glorifying God
Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, August 10

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bible Study and Beer (and some thoughts on Communion)

This story appeared on One News Now.  It's about a seminary student who started a "church service" in a local pub.  Apparently, they light some candles, sing some songs with a guitar, read some Scriptures and just talk.  Around town they call him "the bar pastor."

This makes the author of the article quite concerned, obviously.  Whether you think drinking alcohol is sin or whether you indulge every day matters not to me. But, this article and its accompanying poll sort of made me laugh.  Especially this line, speaking of another local pastor, "But he's concerned by the linking of Christian worship and alcohol."

Um.....isn't that called Communion.  Haven't Christians linked worship and wine since the advent of Christianity.  And if you go back to the Hebrew roots aren't wine and worship very linked (ever attended a Passover Seder?  Hope you're not a lightweight!)?

The poll along with this article says, "Would you attend church in a bar in which alcohol is served during the service?"  Well, maybe I wouldn't attend church in a bar in which alcohol is served, but I would certainly in a church building in which alcohol is served.  And I would say, "I receive your sacrifice, Lord."

(By the way, as of a few minutes ago the poll numbers read: Yes - 8.97%, I would consider it - 15.07% and Absolutely not - 75.975 with 9969 responses.)

Which brings up the issue of receiving communion.  We always hear (in evangelical churches, at least) about not receiving the Lord's Supper in "an unworthy manner."  If we have sin hidden in our hearts or if we are having a fight with our spouse or if we aren't 100% sure of our salvation, etc., we are cautioned not to receive it--lest we bring judgement upon ourselves.  I'm all for not bringing judgment on myself!

I Corinthians 11:29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

Yet, I find when I need Christ's body and blood the most is when I'm struggling with sin and temptation, when Gana and I are at each other's throats or am doubting if Jesus really loves me.  That's when I feel like if I don't take that step of faith to appropriate Christ's sacrifice for me, that I may very well, starve to death.  Probably 90% of the time I've received communion it was in an "unworthy manner" if such is the definition.

BUT, and here's the point, Paul describes an "unworthy manner,", i.e., selfishness and gluttony.  He says that when you come together some are gorging themselves and getting drunk while allowing others to go without.  He directs us instead to wait for one another so that all can receive together.   Equality.  Grace.  More than enough to go around.

I Corinthians 11: 21-22, "For I am told that some of you hurry to eat your own meal without sharing with others. As a result, some go hungry while others get drunk. What? Is this really true? Don't you have your own homes for eating and drinking? Or do you really want to disgrace the church of God and shame the poor? What am I supposed to say about these things? Do you want me to praise you? Well, I certainly do not!"

Now, there may be some theologians reading this that will disagree.  However, it would seem to me that it's a greater sin to withhold the fellowship of the Eucharist than to extend it to someone "unworthy."  According to this passage, the unworthy person is the one who doesn't share, the one who forgets the poor, the one who is more concerned with his individual self than with the good of the congregation.  Rich Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, wrote, "There is nothing in what Paul says that would suggest that an honest seeker who is drawn to the Table without yet having a well-formed faith will be damned for partaking."

As for having church in a pub, I suppose where (and I guess the Lord used that inclusive word on purpose) two or three are gathered He'll be there in their midst.  And if beer is like Mother's Milk to you maybe that's a good place to start and a good place to encounter Him.  But, after a time, as one grows with the Lord, one should be ready for some meat--and to be integrated into the larger congregation and fellowship with the whole body--including the organized church.  For to exclude the organized church would be as much a shame as to exclude the disorganized one.  Communion is about unity in Christ and spreading His grace.

1 comment:

Joy said...

I don't know if you would call it church and a worship time, but maybe an outreach. Like you said maybe it is a good place to start, but lets hope they graduate quickly.
I hear you on the conditions of Communion. I grew up almost scared to take it because all the criteria the pastor reminded us about before we did. Yikes.
I think now about it is His body broken for us so we can become unbroken. One of pastors said a great quote at communion this month similar to that. I'll have to ask her the exact words.

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