Tag Archives: communion

On Christian Community, Diversity & Equality

We just recently celebrated the life and work of the great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There is no doubt that King will forever stand as a symbol of civil and social justice against the menacing tide of racism. He yearned for equality in the United States, and around the world as well.

At the end of last year we remembered the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, the South African leader who helped end apartheid. Two men. Two countries. One passion. It amazes me what God can do through broken people!

I see much of Christ in these men, and celebrate their accomplishments, but I think it is important to remember Christ himself as the purest symbol of diversity and equality. And not just as a symbol, but as a LIVING Spirit at work in the world to draw all men into divine community—which is far different from a world community apart from him. That much is clear today.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer recognized in his time the need for authentic community, with Christ at the center.

“Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this. Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.” Life Together, p.21

Bonhoeffer went on to say that Christian community is governed by the Spirit, in human community it is psychological techniques and methods (p.32).

There is a difference between the community of sinners and the community of saints. The spiritual love of Christ fuels authentic human community. This is absent in the pop-cultural expressions of love and acceptance.

While I do believe that a world which doesn’t know Christ can share in the abundant overflow of God’s love and grace permeating throughout creation, in sincere pursuit of human community, there will always be a missing Center.

Only community with Christ at its center is restorative, redemptive, LIFE-giving, and everlasting.

This has been recognized throughout church history, beginning with Christ himself. You can’t have community without love, and you can’t truly know love without first knowing the God revealed in Jesus (1 Jn 4:7-9).

Therefore, community for the Christian ultimately comes through separation from the world. In the world, yes. But certainly not of the world (Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 2:12). A truth that we are hearing less and less these days.

The postmodern idea of diversity and equality is not the same as that of the divine Christian community established by Christ. The rhetoric is often the same, but they stand in stark contrast to each other. Think about it.

The former doesn’t recognize sin as a spiritual sickness and therefore denies the need for a savior, for repentance, renewal, and transformation.

In today’s world, this sort of human “community” ultimately explains sin away as merely a genetic problem, external cultural forces, or simply says there was/is NO problem in the first place.

The gospel of Christ, and the whole of Scripture, testifies that human beings have a sin problem. Even as someone who personally believes in theistic evolution, I affirm Christ and the Scriptures about the broken state of human beings and their futile attempts at global solidarity (Gen 3; 11:1-9; Rom 3:23).

When Peter recognizes he is in the presence of a holy Jesus, he falls down and cries, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Lk 5:8). Jesus doesn’t reply with, “No, you’re just a product of evolution… your daddy beat you… you just need to accept who you are… the power of positive thinking can help!”

To be clear, I’m confident that Jesus would recognize that modern scientific discoveries can help us understand ourselves better today than in the first century, and that he would suggest some counseling for troubled folks, but it is post-enlightenment arrogance to assign Jesus’ language and teaching to “pre-scientific” ignorance about the human psyche. The spiritual component is no less real than that which can be charted by a neurologist or your therapist. In fact, Jesus saw the spirit, mind, and body as a whole.

So, let’s call selfish, destructive behavior what it is: sin. We all experience sin at work in us everyday. It wars against us (Rom 7). And there is only one remedy.

Jesus was clear that he came, “not to call the righteous, but to save sinners” (Mk 2:17). He actually seeks out sinners (Matt 9:9-13). He tells us to repent of our sins and come into the Kingdom he is preparing for those who are willing to be transformed into his glorious image (Mk 1:15; Lk 13:2-6; 2 Cor 3:18). There is no salvation apart from repentance.

This Kingdom is about the here and the now. This salvation is for today.

God calls us, as broken sinners, into a community of saints who practice repentance and have foresworn all sinful behavior.

This divine Christian community discovers diversity and equality through the salvific work of Christ to transform sinners into saints, not by overlooking our deep human brokenness for the sake of secular tolerance.

The call is for people of every tribe and tongue to repent of their sin and come into the Kingdom of God. This diversity does not allow for a moral licentiousness and a tolerance of all human behaviors (Eph 4:17-32; Col 3:1-17).

Remember, it is a community of Christ. Christ, who shows us what it means to be fully human, must be the Center of community.

There is grace for the journey, even in the church. But the reality of sin and the need for repentance must be acknowledged if divine community is to be experienced. Only then can we know what is part of our God-given humanness, and what is to be repented of for individual wholeness, as well as for the forming of Christ’s Body on the earth.

Let’s agree on that, brothers and sisters.

This is what the communion table represents—a community of sinners-made-saints who are daily repenting of sin, being fashioned and formed into Christ, and celebrate together the past, present, and future of this new reality.

Eat and drink in remembrance of him.

D.D. Flowers, 2014.


Organic Church Life: The Lord’s Supper

If you haven’t been following the Organic Church Life series, I recommend you start at The Beginning.

I was prompted to write on the Lord’s Supper because of the Easter season, and because of the great need there is for others to have a window into the Lord’s meal experienced in simple community.

The following post is a “play-by-play” account of our fellowship sharing the Lord’s meal together. I pray you are encouraged.

The Gathering 4/8/09

Tonight we met at the Price’s house to share the Lord’s meal together for the first time. We started off talking in the living room and then made our way into the kitchen after everyone had arrived.

We feasted on roast, mashed potatoes, cantaloupe, and mixed veggies. Yum! We spread out at the table and the bar. We were eating and laughing with each other.

Earlier I had stopped by the grocery store to pick up some bread for the Lord’s meal. I mentioned that every time I go through the self-checkout line I have problems. Kerry couldn’t understand how anyone could have problems with it. She said, “you people” are the ones taking so long in the line.

Everyone was having a good time laughing at us. I told her if they didn’t throw up Mission Control at you on the little screen, it would help!

After everyone had finished eating and were just talking, we began to move toward the bread and wine (juice). A few of us men had already discussed the “Lord’s Supper” a day or two before. We recognized that the practice was intended to be a meal, at least part of the meal.

What should this look like? We concluded that it is a meal and that we shouldn’t lock ourselves into any certain way of practicing it. The important thing is that we do indeed share the meal together as an extension of what we are already doing as a family.

Joel grabbed another chair and we made room at the table for everyone to sit down. Grant placed the loaf of bread on the table with the juice and I reached for the cups. I began by mentioning how the Lord told his disciples that he “eagerly desired” to have this meal with them (Lk. 22:15).

Normally this upper room conversation is completely reflected on with emphasis on Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ talk of his upcoming suffering. He did speak of these things.

However, Jesus was also joyful over his sharing of the meal with those he was closest to in this world. He longed for the intimate fellowship. And he wanted to tell them the real meaning behind the Passover meal.

Jesus did not let anything keep him from this communion with his followers. Not only would the disciples have this event etched in their memories for the rest of their days, they would continue sharing the meal “until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God” (Lk. 22:18)—until they shared it together at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Grant spoke on the betrothal and marriage ceremony of Jews. He talked about how the cup of wine was given to the bride for her to accept the groom’s proposal.

This cup of destiny is also offered to us, the Bride of Christ.

Jesus offered this cup and still offers this cup to us who belong to him. Our acceptance of this cup is the embrace of a new covenant with God’s people.

This covenant gives us reason to celebrate our hope that we will be joined with Christ in the coming of his Kingdom.

We made mention of the meal’s first purpose and how radical it was for the Lord to reveal its fuller meaning. Can you imagine what these guys must have been thinking to hear Jesus seeming to change/add the symbolism of the Passover meal? They must have recognized that they were witnessing something of great significance, but still a little unsure of its meaning for the future.

What an intimate time of expectation that must have been!

Everyone poured their juice and began to drink as we continued speaking about the blood of Christ and the new covenant in the partaking of the wine.

The conversation naturally shifted to the bread, which the Lord said, “This is my body given for you.” Everyone pinched off a piece of bread from the round loaf in the middle of the table. We continued eating and drinking as we remembered the Lord.

Several of us spoke on how in the past the meal was no meal at all, but a solemn ceremony where believers turn inward only to think about their sin and the death of Jesus instead of moving on to the forgiveness of sin and the resurrection of Christ.

James and Joel both shared about how they once dreaded the practice of communion. It was a burdensome ceremony that left no room for life. We all agreed with one another that the meal was to be a celebratory meal in remembrance of our Lord and the foreshadowing of the Kingdom to come.

Gone are the days of taking the shot glass of grape juice and the Jesus chick-let from the cracker plate while sitting in condemnation being isolated in our pews.

We have been forgiven, the Lord is risen, and now is the time to celebrate!

I mentioned how the Gospels tell us that after the meal they sang a hymn before leaving for the garden where Jesus was arrested. Someone said, “Let’s sing a hymn then.” So we did.

We sang several with our voices only. How sweet it is to hear all the voices and to know we are one in the Spirit of Christ. What a blessing it is to share the Lord’s meal as a family of saints learning about the depths and riches of Christ in simple community.

A few departed when we got up from the table. The rest of us talked for a little while longer in the living room. What a wonderful time we had this evening!

Thank you Lord for your blood of the new covenant, your body that was broken for our sins, and your resurrection that has given us your very own LIFE!

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