Sunday, February 8, 2015

Considering Communion

Have you ever thought about what a non-believer thinks about Communion?

Perhaps they decide to visit a church on the very day we are taking the bread and cup.

What do they see? What do they hear?

Truth be told, there are some aspects of communion that might cause someone to have some really questions.

The word communion, as far as our dictionaries are concerned, can be defined as: a close relationship with someone or something; intimate fellowship or rapport; the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.

Some words we can extract out of these definitions include 
  • Closeness
  • Intimacy
  • Sharing
  • Fellowship

It’s interesting to think that the particular action that broke the sweet, close fellowship that man had with God before sin entered the world was the act of EATING!

Eve was deceived by Satan, who then coaxed Adam to eat from the one tree God had instructed them not to eat.

One bite did them in.

The result? The opposite of communion.

Closeness turned into distance
Intimacy was replaced by shame and fear
Fellowship was broken.

Where Adam and Eve had once walked through the Garden and asked God for wisdom and guidance, they were now independent. Instead of talking to their heavenly Father, they instead talked among themselves saying “We know what’s good. We know what’s evil. We know how to handle this or accomplish that!”

All because of a bite.

That’s what makes the teaching of Jesus from John 6 so intriguing to me, because in the context of His lesson, Jesus invites his listeners to dare to take another bite…

47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Eating from the tree of knowledge brought about sure death.

But here Jesus says to those listening to Him that to “eat” of Him will find life, in fact life that is forever!

Verse 52 indicates that Jesus words weren't exactly clarifying, but were in fact confusing:

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Obviously, Jesus was seeking to make a spiritual illustration, but many who were listening took His words literally, and began to wonder if Jesus was trying to promote some sort of cannibalistic cult!

To which, we might think that Jesus would at that point take a minute, slow done, and say something like, “Whoa, hold on guys, you’re getting the wrong idea!”

But Jesus does just the opposite.

If fact, to use a modern expression, He appears to double down!

Here’s what he says starting in verse 53:

53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Once again, if Jesus isn't taking about the actual consuming of human flesh, just what IS He trying to say to his listeners?

Here’s a few of the ways I process Jesus' teaching:
  • When it comes to the cross work of Jesus, we must go beyond admiration to engagement.
  • We cannot stop at appreciating Christ’s work, we must go all the way to embracing it.
  • The call of Jesus is a call for our all.
  • We aren't called to wade, we are called to swim.

One of the things that consumes our lives is the pursuit of food and drink.

Why? Because without these two, our life very quickly comes to an end!

Here in this passage, Jesus is telling us that, spiritually speaking, we need to consume of Him.

The essence of Christianity is wrapped up in the fact that if we don’t fully grab hold of Jesus as our Lord and our Savior, we spiritually end up dying of hunger and thirst.

He is our sustenance.

He is our nourishment.

He is our life!

And he invites us to take all He has to offer that we might be filled.

Through communion we become involved in multiple activities, such as remembering the reason for his death that saves us from sin, inviting Jesus to rule over our lives presently, and looking forward to the time we join him in heaven for all eternity.

And the amazing thing is that Jesus invites us to his table, and all that the table communicate, just as we are, simply acknowledging our desperate need for everything He offers.

Communion, therefore is not some cursory church activity that we put on the church calendar to fulfill some religious obligation.

It is instead a God-given opportunity to draw close to the One who has done everything to make us right and holy and free.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Four Stages of Following Jesus. Where do You Find Yourself?

Loved last night's FOLLOW class. Andy Stanley, in a video session called "Next Steps," used the scene from Luke 5 when Jesus started calling some fishermen to follow Him. Andy used the events in that story to talk about the four different stages we find ourselves in a journey with Jesus:

1, The "Sit and Listen" stage (Luke 5:1) - When we are investigating Jesus; listening to His teachings, exploring his actions and asking questions.
2. The "Loan Jesus our Boat" stage (Luke 5:2-3) - The place where move from beyond listening and we are willing to be slightly inconvenienced by Jesus. We may make the effort to come to a church service or a small group.
3. The "Fishing with Jesus" stage (Luke 5:4-8) - The moment we are willing to actually apply some of the instructions of Jesus, even if they don't seem to make sense to us.
4. The "Leave Your Nets" stage (Luke 5:9-11) - When Jesus moves from being a good teacher in our lives to acting as our Lord.

Can you identify where you are on this list? Maybe you are wavering between a couple of them.  Sometimes we surge ahead, other times we sense our forward motion is ever so slight.

Each one of these stages is a great place to be, but the encouragement of Jesus is to keep moving, keep following, keep stepping. They maybe small steps, and it may take some courage to get to the place we are willing to move to the next stage, but some movement is better than no movement!

FOLLOW is a CBC Interest Group and meets on Tuesday Nights from 6:30-8:00 pm in the Youth Lounge. We have 6 more sessions to go. Come check it out!