Jump Start # 2555
1 Corinthians 11:33 “So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.”
One of the things that the current flu crisis has created is for many brethren to look deeply within the Word of God. Fear, worry and panic are not the characteristics of people of faith. Knowing that God remains on the throne is helpful and hopeful.
The majority of congregations throughout the country have cancelled worship services. That is true where I worship. This has caused a lot of extra work to try to keep people informed, connected and growing. Videos, podcasts, emails have become essential tools to help with this. So, many are having to worship at home. Through technology we are able to sing, hear a sermon and have a sense of being in worship. But the question arises about the Lord’s Supper. How do we do that? How do we do that when we are not together? Is it wrong to do that when we are separated from one another? What about this Corinthian principle, “when you come together?” We are not coming together. We are staying at home. The shepherds have told us to stay at home. I have had so many calls all over the country about this very thought.
Since we are in this crisis at the moment, I thought this would be a good time to talk about this. I understand that not everyone will agree with my conclusions. I can only express things from how I see them in the Scriptures.
First, I really appreciate how so many are thinking about this. Brethren want to do right. They want to honor the Lord in a Biblical manner according to the pattern we find in the Scriptures. I suppose we ought to be more concerned if no one brought this up. Those that have questions about the logistics of taking the Lord’s Supper are not being divisive, trouble makers or a pain in the neck. They have good hearts. Their questions deserve a serious study of the Bible, likely much more deeply than what we can do here. Understand we are going down paths that we have never traveled before. Many judgments will have to be made. Those that lead God’s people are looking out for the spiritual and physical wellbeing of the flock.
Second, we must be careful and not compare apples to oranges, as they say. Paul’s words to the Corinthian church was addressing a serious spiritual problem. Division had never torn that church apart. They were fellowshiping an immoral member. They were suing one another. Some were denying the resurrection. And with the Lord’s Supper, some were eating it like a common meal and others were not getting any of it. They had left the Lord out of the Lord’s Supper. So, the coming together and waiting for one another was a principle addressing this problem. One of the hallmarks of our worship is sharing together in the Lord’s Supper. We do that together. I believe that’s what God wants us to do.
Now, the question arises, what is one to do when he can’t be with the church? For instance, what did the eunuch do when he got back to Ethiopia? Did he have to wait until another was baptized and a church was formed before he could take the Lord’s Supper? What about Paul when he traveled to places where there was no congregation? Some places Paul stayed for weeks, even months. On those Sundays, did he just not take the Lord’s Supper until a church was formed?
Then there are those unknowns that were common in the N.T. What if a brother or sister got leprosy? They were to be excluded from the community. They were to live in a leper colony. While there, would they take the Lord’s Supper? What about a Roman soldier? We know that Cornelius, an officer in the Roman army became a Christian. What if he was sent to some outpost where there were no congregations? Should he or should he not take the Lord’s Supper?
Third, what we are experiencing is most unusual. This is not a form of government persecution. Stop using, “We must obey God rather than man” passages. The government is not telling us to stop preaching. They are not keeping us from God. They are trying to keep us alive and keep this virus from getting out of control. Once the threat passes, we will be able to assemble as before. It’s hard for a congregation to demonstrate the second greatest command in the Bible, loving your neighbor as yourself, when we ignore health guidelines and put ourselves and our community at risk by meeting together. If we really love our community, then we want to help them. In our community a man was feeling bad for a couple of weeks. He went to work. He went to a basketball game. He went to a high school event. He went to his church. He is now in ICU at the hospital having been diagnosed positive for the Coronavirus. His story was on the local news. Look how many people, many hundreds, that he came in contact with. Most will be fine. But there are some who won’t be fine. This is why church leaders are making the very difficult decision to cancel services. It’s not fear, but love driven. It’s not that we think we will get it, but we don’t want to be responsible, or even liable if we give it to someone else.
Having said that, these are unique times. We worship at home. Should I take the Lord’s Supper? We don’t know how long this will last. It could go into months. I will continue to honor and glorify my Lord who died for me. I will worship on Sunday as best as I can. I will sing praises. I will listen to His word preached. I will contribute as the elders tell us how. I will pray. And, above all, I will remember the most important thing in my life, my Savior and my Lord. I will remember how He changed my life. I will remember how He loved me enough to die for my sins. I will remember how he arose from the grave to crush the head of Satan. I will remember the grand hope of Heaven that He promises.
Do I think God will frown upon me for remembering His Son’s death? Do I think God will feel dishonored because I partook of the Lord’s Supper with my wife in our home? Do I think the Lord considers that I have trashed His word and ignored His authority? No. I don’t think so. I think He will be glad under these stressful times that I put Him first. I think He will be honored that I have put the cross before the virus. I think He understands what we are going through.
Now, when all of this passes, and it will some day, don’t you fear that some will just stay home all the time and take the Lord’s Supper at home? If you can do it at home in a crisis, why can’t you do it all the time? The answer is because of the crisis. Earlier in Corinthians Paul said that it would be better not to marry. Ought we to discourage all weddings? Should we pressure young people to break up and cancel their wedding plans? No. Contextually, he says because of the present distress. There was a current crisis. God is not anti-marriage. God was the one who introduced marriage to the world. But with the crisis in Corinth, things not being normal, it was best not to marry. That crisis passed. We get married. No problem. When this flu crisis passes, we will assemble. Those that don’t, need to be talked to. They have a greater problem than just staying home.
Where would we be without Jesus?
Those are my thoughts. Agree, disagree, or just not sure, we must work through this crisis and be patient with each other and respect each other’s conscience.
Pray that things get better quickly…or, better still, ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’