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Communion with the Persecutedby Duane Mabee on September 29, 2021
The following thoughts on communion have their roots in something Francis Chan wrote in his book Letters to the Church.
Can you imagine what it would have been like to take communion with the early church – with people for whom the death and resurrection of Jesus was a recent memory not an abstract concept? Can you picture what it would be like to take communion with the persecuted church? When they gather for communion, they can’t help but miss fellow believers who have been martyred or imprisoned for believing in the Savior they celebrate. In their gatherings, there are some who bare the marks of being tortured for believing in the Christ of communion.
How does that impact the way they perceive communion? What do you think goes through the minds of people like that when they celebrate the Lord’s Supper? How precious does that make communion to them? Does communion hold any of that for you, or has it become routine?
God intends communion to be an act of intimacy with our Savior Who shed His blood for our salvation. It is to be an expression of deep gratitude to the One Who allowed His body to be crucified in our place. God designed communion as a tactile experience so that our whole being – mind, body and soul – is involved. We are meant to contemplate, to experience, to receive and express the love of Christ.
The word “express” in that last sentence is important, for communion is also meant to be an expression of intimacy with the other believers in our body. Just before He instituted communion, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet as an expression of the completeness of His love for them. When He finished, He commanded them, and us, to love each other in the same way. He then led them in the first communion before making His way to the cross for them.
Because of that Chan says, “As we consider the cross and look around the room, we should be asking ourselves, ‘Am I willing to love the people in this room to that extent?’” That is what Christ calls us to do. “Just imagine,” Chan continues, “if the Church was made up of people who would literally go to the cross for one another.” That’s the kind of love Christ calls us to. It the kind of intimacy with each other communion should express. It’s the kind of love the world is waiting to see to confirm the truth of our gospel and the reality of our Savior.