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. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. – 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 (NLT)
There are three things that I want to say briefly about this passage in today’s blog.
First – the call to examine yourself. I often say during the Sunday Communion gathering that the instruction is to examine yourself – not your neighbour. There are occasions when someone in the congregation would say to me, “I don’t think that person should be taking Communion. They are _____, or they are not _____. This is not self examination. This is judging someone else.
No one is worthy to come to the table to receive the body and the blood of Jesus. He has made us worthy. We come recognizing our continual need of his grace and mercy. This is the attitude that makes us worthy, not our sense of self-righteousness. If we come to the table to receive his forgiveness and cleansing then we are coming in the right spirit. It is the manner in which we come to the table that is the key issue.
Second, in the context in which this passage is written, as we’ve mentioned in a previous blog, Paul was admonishing the church in Corinth for their divisiveness based on their spiritual pride. It is in this context of pride and schisms that he is warning them to examine themselves.
When you come to the table have you examined your heart attitude towards the body of which you are a part? Are you walking in unity with the people in your church? Are you harbouring offences in your heart towards people in your local church? If so, then the biblical injunction is to forgive them from the heart, give them a gift they do not deserve and then come to the table. Life will go well for you if you do this. It will not go well for you if you do not.
Third, as you come to the table you are remembering the incredible sacrifice of love that Jesus made on behalf of all humanity. You are remembering this amazing NEW covenant of grace and mercy. This new covenant is not a new layer of paint on an old rusty bicycle that needs to be freshened up. It is a brand new bicycle … in reality it is a top of the line Maserati, if you understand my meaning.
It is a covenant whose greater glory is ever-increasing. It is a covenant made between God and whoever would believe. It is a covenant that gives us a new heart, a new mind and the precious Holy Spirit.
It is a New Covenant that enables us to live a blessed life.
The Examined Life
One of the rewarding spiritual practises of the ancient church that I practice from time to time is the habit of daily examining my life. It has been a beautiful way of helping me build intimate relationship with God and to become more self-aware.
Here is what you do at the end of each day:
- Take a few quiet moments before you fall asleep and become attentive to the Presence of God with you.
- Review your day with an attitude of thanksgiving – for everything, the good, bad and indifferent.
- Specifically thank God for a positive highlight during the day.
- Ask God for forgiveness for a lowlight in your day. Ask Holy Spirit to help you response better next time round.
- Go to bed thanking God for the grace and mercy of the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus.
Live the examined life and you will keep short accounts with God and you will enjoy the fruit of a blessed life. Amen!