The Importance of Communion
“That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” (v. 30). - 1 Corinthians 11:27–34
The Lord’s Supper is the sign of Christ’s presence among His people and of their unity in Him. As Paul chastised the Corinthians for their factionalism, he called attention to the fact that by warring with one another, they were abusing the meaning of the central ritual of the church (1 Corinthians 10–11).
The Bible teaches us that Jesus gives Himself to us in the Lord’s Supper. Physically, Jesus is located at the right hand of the Father in heaven, so there is no transformation of the bread and wine into His physical body. On the basis of scriptural teaching, the church determined at the Council of Chalcedon in 431 AD that Christ’s humanity is not mingled with His deity, so that it cannot be spread out over space. Thus, in the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Spirit communicates Jesus to us, and makes us present to His person in heaven, but Christ does not come to “hide” in the bread and wine.
The Lord’s Supper is dinner with Jesus. It is the meal we take with God on the Lord’s Day. Common sense as well as biblical theology indicate that we should eat with God every week, on His day. Sadly, the church has either surrounded the Lord’s Supper with superstitions, or else neglected it, doing it only monthly or quarterly. But if we understand the great gift that God offers us when He invites us to His house to worship and dine with Him, we will not neglect the sacrament of Holy Communion.
The unity of the church is a unity in Christ. The Lord’s Supper seals that unity to us in that we all feed on Christ, and thus are all together made partakers of the same body. The Corinthians, however, were eating the “Lord’s Supper” in various groups aligned with their factions. Such behavior was a grave offense to God, and showed that they neither understood nor appreciated the death of His Son and the gift of the sacrament.
The Lord’s Supper always acts upon us when we participate in it. When we receive it in faith, we derive benefit and nourishment from feeding on Jesus Christ. When, however, we harbor sin and abuse the Supper, we receive judgment from God. The Corinthians were experiencing sickness and premature deaths because they, as a church, were offending God at His Supper.
Few churches enjoy Holy Communion on a weekly basis. Some claim that to do so would demean its meaning by becoming common. Yet we gather every week to worship God. Others say it would be impractical. Discuss with your pastor what would prevent you from celebrating a weekly communion observance.
Passages for Further Study
- Matthew 26:17–30
- Acts 2:42–47
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