Breaking Bread- The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper Part 14
What a shame and disgrace for the Church of Christ at Corinth to have come out of destitute circumstances in heathen temples and come into the most vaunted place earth could house, the Church of Christ and starve some who had not; yet this is exactly what they were doing!! The richer members of the Church were disjoining themselves from the poor members who “had not houses to eat in, or despise you the Church of God and shame them that have not?” 1 Corinthians 11:22 It would shame the Christian community, and quite undo its quickly won reputation for brotherly love and charity, were its members observed begging for daily bread on the streets. It was equally unseemly for the rich to accept and for the poor to be denied the meal furnished at the expense of the Church. No quality, of the Church of Christ, was more her own, than charity and no duty more incumbent or lovelier than to feed the hungry, it could not dishonor the Church to spread in it a meal for whosoever should be in need of it, and that she did.
The cup and its significance are now sought in meaning. This is denominationalist have so sadly been remiss in their understanding. The Church of Rome has influenced her offspring, the denominational churches which sprang from her, to the extent that the custom of the day prevails to allow the communicant to eat of the bread, but not of the cup. One of Rome’s authorities has written that “it is well known that this custom was not first established by any ecclesiastical law; but, on the contrary, it was in consequence of the general prevalence of the usage that this law was established. A pious dread of desecrating, by spilling and the like, even in the most conscientious ministration, the form of the most sublime and holiest whereof the participation can be vouchsafed to man, was the feeling which swayed their minds.” One cannot but regret that this reverence for the purpose of partaking did not take the form of a humble acceptance of it, in accordance with its original institution; and one cannot but think that the “pious dread of desecrating” the purpose would have sufficiently prevented any spilling of the wine or other abuse, or have sufficiently atoned for any little accident which might have occurred. It is definite that the apostle by inspiration did never insist that such a piety would have never given place to the observance on a more infrequent basis to avoid such a mistake of human frailty.
One of the main arguments used by men is that the frequent observance breeds undue familiarity with holy things and a profane carelessness in handling what should only be approached with the deepest reverence. That familiarity breeds contempt, or at any rate heedlessness, is hardened by frequentness of observance. The medical student who faints or sickens at the sight of blood the first time he sees the operating theater soon looks with unflinching face on wounds and blood. And by the same law it is feared, and not without reason, that if we observed frequent communion, we should cease to cherish that proper awe, and cease to feel that flutter of hesitation, and cease to be subdued by that sacredness of the observance which yet are the very feelings through which in great measure the attendance to the command influences us for good. We think it would be impossible to pass every week through those trying moments in which the soul trembles before God’s majesty and love as exhibited in the Lord’s Supper: and we fear that the heart would shrink from faithfulness, and that the emotion in partaking would cease. That Paul, as directed by the Holy Spirit, sought to restore reverence in the Corinthians not by prohibiting frequent observance, but by setting more clearly before them the facts which underlie the partaking. They had a bused not the oftenest, but the purpose for partaking. In presence of these facts every worthy communicant is at all times living; and if it be merely the outward equipment and presentation of these facts which solemnize our hearts and quicken our reverence, then in this itself is rather an argument for the weekly celebration of the Supper. We are not governed by instinct, but by command. We have not been advised by humanity as to the oftenest of observance, but by God. We have never to fear that since God made us, it is He who could have prevented the frequency from making us lose our reverence for the partaking.
The key to proper observance is not frequency but preparedness. Our hearts must enter this precious observance not as a religious duty, but in sufficient gratitude for the forgiveness of sins it pictures!