At Redemption we celebrate the sacrament of communion nearly every week. We do this because it puts the sacrificial work of Jesus in our place at the very center of every worship gathering. One of the potential dangers for a church that celebrates communion each week is that without great care it can become a religious formality - one of those this we do because "that's what we always do." Regardless of how often we take communion, it ought always to be taken seriously. It's not a game. It is not a sad expression of worship, but a serious one. In 1 Corinthians 11:27 the Apostle Paul warns in writing, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord."
So the question is, how can we take this important expression of worship seriously and properly prepare our hearts for it? Here are the four steps I encouraged our church family in yesterday:
1. Acknowledge your need
We have a tendency to suppress our sin - we mask it, hide it, ignore it and rationalize it. In suppressing the reality of our sin we unknowingly suppress the reality of our need for a Savior. Instead of ignoring our sin, we need to lean into it and allow it to drive us to our need for Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.
2. Examine your heart
Just one verse later in I Corinthians 11:28 Paul again instructs us writing, "Let a person examine himself, then and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup." What are the attitudes, actions, and behaviors not in full submission to Jesus? Whom, or what has captured your affection more than Jesus? Do the hard work of examining your heart in hope of unearthing the indwelling sin that inevitably exists.
3. Repent of your sin
To examine your heart and identify your sin is only half the battle. Realizing your sin is not enough, you must repent of it. Repentance is the gift of grace that causes a change of heart, mind, and behavior - it's turning your back on sin and turning your face to God, choosing to go God's way.
4. Take it by faith
As we take the bread and the cup it reminds us of the body and blood of Christ that has provided us with freedom from the penalty and the power of our sin and reconciled us to God. We take these elements by faith - not faith in the elements, but in the One to which the elements point.
Christ died once for sin, that He might bring us to God and restore to us the lives for which we were created (1 Peter 3:18). Communion is our celebration of Christ's sacrifice to save sinners. The severity of the sacrifice demands we celebrate seriously. Each time we're provided the opportunity let's acknowledge our need, examine our hearts, repent of our sin, and take this gift by faith.