Communion Done Wrong
What sins SHOULD we be confessing when we focus on communion?
I had driven this road MANY times through high school and college to play basketball. As a newly graduated student from college, I was now driving to the "other school" to network with an area youth pastor. Even though I wasn't going to the campus to play competitive basketball, I had the pre-game jitters!
"I HATE this town!" I said aloud.
Then it hit me: the people I hated the most... were other Christians. You see, I graduated from a Christian high school, then a Christian college. The meeting went well, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was in "enemy territory."
A little while later I was sitting in a communion service. I heard the directive: "If you have any unconfessed sin in your life, take a moment right now and confess them to God."
I had heard this exact same directive hundreds of times and I know that I should have been thinking about my sins, but I started to wonder…
What SINS should I be confessing?
It was a simple question; then it became a burning question in my soul. I put down my communion and started to investigate… the people around me must have thought I was in some INCREDIBLE sin! I wanted to make sure that I wasn't!
I went to 1 Corinthians 11 because it was quoted before EVERY communion service. 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 says:
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
So confessing SIN is legit, but does the passage randomly state "an unworthy manner" without defining it? I started to read the context. Paul begins "the communion passage" with an alarming statement that I had NEVER thought about. He pinpoints a specific sin to confess.
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it... 1 Corinthians 11:18
Looking a little deeper, this word is only used eight times in the New Testament, and Paul uses it three times in 1 Corinthians. This word is used in the gospels in reference to the division in the religious community over what the Jewish leaders should do about the "Jesus problem!"
The first time Paul uses this word in 1 Corinthians is at the very beginning of his letter:
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)
The last time Paul uses "division" is in 1 Corinthians 12:25. Maybe the 30,000-foot view of 1 Corinthians is that Paul was REALLY trying to unite a very divided church. The other reality that grasped me was that Paul was writing to the churches in Corinth. He didn't write different letters to Corinth Community Church, First Presbyterian Church of Corinth, and Corinth Free Methodist Church, he wrote, "To the church of God that is in Corinth…"
Of course, there were some immediate things that I realized that I needed to fix. My secret sins were important to confess, but my divisive heart DESPERATELY needed to be addressed. Paul says in the verse, "For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself."
Some division in the church occurs because of theological differences, but many of the divisions creep into our hearts unchecked because "they" belong to "another" organization. We need to stand guard against such assumptions. Maybe they aren't the enemy. Maybe they are on our side. _________________