Well, this is the sixth in my series about how cultural biases may have, probably have influenced our understanding of the Bible, especially in the U.S. churches. I had intended to do only one blog per issue, but the Spirit has prompted, well actually SHOVED me, dragged me screaming, into going deeper because there exists a deep misunderstanding about Holy Communion by some who occupy the pews. The issue is about “who”–WHO can receive these sacred symbols?
Let’s begin with the 2 camps known as The Closed Camp and The Open Camp. The Close Camp Rule state that only members of their Tribe are allowed to receive the sacred symbols. No ifs, ands, buts or maybes–you have to be a full member of Their Tribe. The Open Camp Rule state that church membership is not a requirement. And now things become a little more complicated. Have you ever noticed how humanity tends to make the grace of God more complicated? Or is that just me?
Within The Open Camp there are 2 Sub-Camps. Both agree that church membership is not a requirement, both Camps agree that this is that powerful reminder of God’s Grace. There are some other points they agree on, but here is where it becomes a bit more complicated. First there is The Open Camp But You Have To Be Worthy. This Camp says, “Stay away from this Table until you are worthy of it.” Those who hold this view have hitched their wagon to 1 Corinthians 11:26-27 (NLT)
26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. 27 So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
At the ripe old age of 21, I had an older member who refused to celebrate Holy Communion all because her father had drilled it into her head, “Don’t receive it until you feel you are worthy.” The position of This Camp is that this Table, HIS Table, is a Reserved Table. Your reservations for His Table are made through your performance. They may not agree with my conclusion, but as I often say, “The truth will stand when the world’s on fire.” Though the Table is not a “Members Only Club”, it is demeaned and devalued into “The Table For Only Those Who Perform Very Well.”
The other is The Open Camp For Those Who Need Grace. This Camp says, “If you are hungry for God’s grace, then there’s a chair for you at this Table.” The Communion Table becomes more of a doctor’s office for the sick, than a “Heisman Award” for the really good folks. This Camp sees Holy Communion as a Means of Grace, a way to connect with God’s Grace. And I am proud to say that I have a lifetime membership in this Camp.
I understand that some will say, “Look, the issue is much more in-depth (which is just another way of saying ‘complicated’) than you have presented it.” But when I take my cultural eyeglasses off and simply read the Bible, here is what I see and understand; and it’s not all that complicated.
For those who must insist that we become worthy BEFORE we receive the Sacred Signs, and base it on 1 Corinthians 11:26-27, you’re not applying this verse in its context. See what some of the Corinthians were doing. They were having a private party for their own kind. Kinda like those who say Holy Communion is only for ‘their’ kind of folks. So you think you’re “worthy”? You better check out verses 28. 39 and 30.
It is called The Lord’s Table for a reason, and a purpose. The Reason it is The Lord’s Table is because He alone has set the table and provided the meal, so HE gets to decide who receives the invitation. Luke 14 describes the invitation sent to those on the little dusty trails, in other words, those on the fringes. Mark 2 describes that He is looking and calling for the sick, not the allegedly healthy. And who can forget John 3:16 and THAT powerful word WHOSOEVER. Everyone is a WHOSOEVER.
I don’t think anyone should come to The Lord’s Table casually or out of habit. It is a sacred moment where we can both SEE and TASTE that The Lord, He is Good! And I certainly do not believe that it’s a performance based reward. This, The Lord’s Table, is for anyone who needs to be reminded of these 2 eternal truths:
- We need God’s grace every moment of every day
- God freely gives us the grace we admit to needing because of the death of Jesus.
Holy Communion has this Message: “For anyone who needs and wants My Grace, pull up a chair at My Table, and have a Feast! Don’t worry about the cost. I’ve taken care of that, too!” And that, my friends, is something to celebrate!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!!!!