Devotions - Saturday, June 16th, 2007

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Devotions - Saturday, June 16th, 2007

Postby Blipadouzi » Sat Jun 16, 2007 8:48 pm

Reading: Proverbs 16, Proverbs 17, Proverbs 18; Acts 2:22-47

Good day Church,

I have a passion that is hard for me to hide from anyone, and that is the book of the Acts of the Apostles. It is a passion because the Church is a passion for me. This beautiful, mysterious, wonderful and glorious living thing that God created with the giving of the Holy Spirit has long captured my heart. It is the reason I mourn to the depth of my being as I see what we have done to her, prostituting and robbing her of her intended splendor. I believe that the study of the life of Jesus and the birth of his Bride is the key to rediscovering her character and purpose.

One of the key elements to the Church is the relationship of believers to one another. The element of our relationship to God is a given but needs to be examined in the context of our relationship to each other. In fact, we cannot look at one without the other. It is difficult to give one more importance than the other although it must begin with our relationship with Christ. To understand what I mean by this we must understand what Jesus had prayed for us as recorded in the gospel of John:

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23)

This is more than a prayer of unity but speaks of the depth of the relationship, of our communion in Jesus and in one another. There is a depth of intimacy and trust that many of us fear to even approach; when we can look each other in the eye and know “I love you enough to die for you”. The funny thing is that many of us would probably be able to make this ultimate sacrifice but it is in the smaller details that we get tripped up. “I would die for you but I will not sacrifice myself for you.” Many of us do not understand the word deferent because we do not understand this attitude we are to have toward our fellow believers, willing to give up our freedoms for one another. Just because I am permitted to do something doesn’t mean I should, especially if it affects my brother. So, we may have the big picture in focus but the daily living scene is beyond us. If the Church is to function properly we need to come to a greater understanding of the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, or the Breaking of Bread; however you want to call it.

I am one who does not believe that Jesus initiated a religious ceremony when he used the bread and wine as a symbol of remembrance, but I do believe he gave us a powerful daily object lesson so that we would never forget. This act of remembrance of itself holds no power and will change nothing but when used as an act of remembrance of who we are in Christ and with each other in a setting of fellowship, it goes a long way to helping us remember the function of the Church and our part in it. Before I share with you my vision of this act of remembrance and my struggle over it let us review:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22:19-20)

“Do this in remembrance of me” is not a difficult thing to understand here. There is no impartation of power. There is no special thing that takes place. A person does not become a follower of Jesus by doing it. There are no mystic powers involved with it. Yet, I do believe it is of vital importance to do it. It is vital as individuals and vital as the Church. However, I believe we have mixed up some of the details about it. I do not believe there is a magic formula for doing it but I also believe we have made something of it that was never meant to be. Let’s do another review:

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

Take note of the “breaking of bread” and the sense of having all things in common. These are vital things for the Church or a congregation of the Church to function in a healthy manner. It is not just possessions but attitude, perspectives, purpose, all held in common. Let’s consider a couple of details here.

First, these early Christians were fully possessed by the notion of Christ and were excited to be together. They met every day. Forget about the once a week prayer meeting or Bible Study, this was every day. There was an excitement to be together that came from being together in Jesus Christ. They met for instruction from the apostles but they also met together throughout the week.

It is interesting that they met in each other’s homes. There was sincerity in their love, in their sharing, in their hospitality. There was no reluctance to be in each other’s homes. It was in this settling that they broke bread together. The Lord’s Supper was not some stuffy religious ceremony that was held at the local Synagogue but was a loving act of remembrance done whenever believers came together. It wasn’t held once a month or once a year but was a normal thing they did daily in their homes, with their friends and family.

It probably followed the same manner in which Jesus first did it. At the beginning of their meal they would “break” the bread, remembering the sacrifice of Jesus in his body. They would then enjoy their meal, perhaps discussing the apostles’ teaching or new things that had been happening as believers. At the end of the meal they would end it with the passing of the cup of wine, in remembrance of what the spilling of Jesus’ blood had done for us. A far cry from what we have done with it.

Yet, no matter how we observe this act of remembrance it is important for us to understand it is a remembrance of more than just our relationship with Jesus but as our “communion” with one another. This is why Jesus also washed the feet of his disciples at this same time, that we would understand the attitude of our relationship to each other. In this unity of God with us and us with each other we find the healthy and vibrant Church, the Church where Jesus is able to operate to grow the Kingdom:

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The entire reason I have struggled over communion is because of our attitude toward it as a religious ceremony. I believe in the importance of it but I believe that importance needs to be held up every time believers come together, in church and in our homes. It is something that families should do every time they sit at the table. I believe it is important to do it more than just in prayer but in the physical act of breaking bread and passing the cup; again, not as a religious act but a daily remembrance of our unity with Jesus and one another. Perhaps with such an attitude our hearts would soften toward each other and we will see the beauty of the Church once again, as we hold all things in common.
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