Today, I had the pleasure of celebrating the Lord's Supper at church, and it made me think about some things that I'm about to list below. The Lord's Supper is one of those things that I tend to take much too lightly. Way too often, I find my mind wandering off somewhere when my focus should be centered on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. What I'll be speaking about today is partly from me and partly from one of my former pastors, who left a deep print on my mind with his observations on this topic.
The Lord's Supper is a time to gather together as a church body and call to remembrance the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Much too often, I fear it slips by us without even calling to mind the purpose for which it was instituted. How many times have I sat in my pew, holding the bread or the cup in my hand, while my mind thought about the Cowboys game, or my next tournament, or a piano special, or whatever else slips into my mind? How many times have I held the very reminders of my Savior's death in my hands and thought about other things?
I believe the biggest area of error for myself, maybe others, is my failure to focus on Christ during Communion. This, as in other areas I've spoken about in other articles, once again reflects our human desire to be master's of our own fate, or maybe just our own self-centeredness. We don't just focus on our favorite football teams during Communion; we focus on ourselves, but we do it under the "righteous" explanation of self-examination. Much too often, I fear we, unintentionally, use this phrase as an excuse to ignore Jesus and instead focus on my own actions, good or bad.
I don't think Paul had the same idea we do in mind when we wrote that we are to examine ourselves. (1 Cor. 11:28) I think we, unknowingly, use it as an excuse to take the emphasis of the Lord's Supper away from Christ and instead give it to ourselves.
I believe Paul wrote that verse for this simple reason: self-examination should take place during Communion. Don't get me wrong; I'm not denying that self-examination does indeed have a place at the Lord's Table. Instead, self-examination should have the opposite effect than how we treat it at times. When I honestly and objectively examine my own life and my own actions, I should see how often I have failed. If I'm truly honest, I will see what a failure I am in my own strength. And you know the truth? This shouldn't take very long.
Self-examination has a purpose. When I look at myself and see my own failure, I look up. I look at Christ, who is my strength. That is why self-examination needs to take place; because it points away from me, and to Christ. What I fear happens too often is we simply stop at the point of self-examination, and the result is a me-centered Communion.
When I stop my thinking at the Lord's Table at my own self-examination, two things can happen. 1.) I can see myself for the fallen, weak person I am and be struck by a sense of my own helplessness, but stop there without ever moving on to see Jesus for who He is, or 2.) I can instead see myself as a mostly good person who fails every once in a while, and on the high road to moral excellence, and again, miss Jesus. Either way, simply dwelling on my own self-examination leads to disastrous results unless we carry it on to its logical conclusion.
When I am weak, Christ is strong. That is why Communion is so sweet. The Lord's Supper is the time I (hopefully) set aside time for meditation on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Only then can I actually have true peace in who I am now: not a sinner stuck in failure, or a pretty good guy who fails every once in a while, but a child of the King and join-heir with Christ.
Think about that for a sec. Joint-heir with Christ. Do you realize the absolute enormity of what that means? We, as children of God, are heirs of all the benefits and love of our heavenly Father along with His son, Jesus. We, rebels, have been ushered into the very presence and family of God, not because of us, but in spite of us.
So take a minute and think about what that means. Next time you take time to celebrate the Lord's Supper, think about yourself. Think about yourself for just long enough to see your need for Jesus, and then spend the rest of the time enthralled at the enormity of Jesus' sacrifice and grace.