Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mixed Emotions at the Lord's Supper

This past Sunday we celebrated the Lord's Supper at Chevis Oaks Baptist Church. Going into the service, I was so excited I almost couldn't stand it. I'm glad to say that the Lord blessed our service. I believe He was glorified through it, and I know the church body was edified.

In the weeks leading up to the Lord's Supper, I taught about the Passover from Exodus 12 and on the importance of examining ourselves from I Corinthians 11. This Sunday, I preached specifically on 11:23-26. We partook of the supper immediately after the sermon.

While I was preaching I noticed something interesting. Quite honestly, it was something that I hadn't prepared for. While I spoke about the significance and meaning of this ordinance, I saw many different emotions on the faces of the people. I'm glad to say that the most common emotion was one of joy. For various reasons, the church hadn't partaken of the Lord's Supper since January. Because of this, the church body very much wanted to participate. I could see joy on the faces of many of the people as I was speaking and especially when we took the meal.

On a few faces I did not see joy. Rather, I saw sadness. I saw quiet crying. This is because people they love deeply do not know God. The Lord's Supper causes us all to think seriously about the fact that some people know God and others do not. It makes us think about eternity. It forces us to remember that as there is a heaven, there is also a hell. The sadness I saw on a few faces comes directly from the thought of a loved one perishing apart from Jesus Christ.

As I preached, I also saw indifference on a small number of faces. This could have been due to a boring sermon, but I don't think that was the case. I know for a fact that at least a few people in attendance have not yet repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior. In the sermon, I presented the gospel, but I also made it clear that the unsaved should not partake of the supper. Those who I knew are not saved seemed indifferent to most of what I was saying. I saw one person sleeping.

As we ate and drank, my emotions were not mixed at all. I was thrilled to partake of the Lord's Supper. I admit that I do not understand all that is going on at a spiritual level during the supper, but I'm still awed by the whole thing. I can't wait to participate again.

I feel bad for those who had mixed emotions on Sunday. In particular, I feel for those who are sad because of loved ones who do not know Christ. I fear for those who acted indifferent to the whole celebration.

The Lord's Supper is the visual gospel that forces us to recognize the reality that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who serve God and those who do not. I pray that those who acted indifferent on Sunday will soon repent, believe, and be counted with those who serve the Lord.

4 comments:

Brian said...

that's okay, people fall asleep during my sermons too and we have five or ten people max at any given service.... ;)

Eric said...

Brian,

Thanks for empathizing. Preaching can certainly be a challenge; it is certainly also a gift.

Micah said...

im wondering if some of the sadness you saw was based on one's "traditional" view of the supper. when i was an evangellyfish, the supper was a solem, cry-if-you-can, sort of thing where we remembered the cross and what our sins cost Jesus... it wasnt until a few years ago that i realized that the supper is just that, a shared meal with my brothers and sisters in Christ wherein we partake of the flesh and blood of Christ and we are fed by Him in word and (GASP!) sacrament.

i love to eat, and so, eating that which gives me life with my fellow saints should cause us great joy!

Eric said...

Micah,

Thank you for commenting on my blog.

I understand what you are saying about the "traditional view" of the supper. However, in this case I think what was going on was that a few people were legitimately sad because their loved ones do not know the Lord. As I preached, I made it very clear that there are those who are saved and those who are not. We, of course, hope that any unsaved among us come to know the Lord, but for now they should not be partaking of the supper. This led to some folks being upset.

The large majority seemed joyful, which I think is the most appropriate reaction.

As for our views of the specific meaning of the supper, it is clear that we differ. However, I must say that my primary concern is the gospel itself rather than the specific meaning of this ordinance/sacrament.