EATING AND DRINKING CONDEMNATION
by Richard Chowning
The Importance of the Lord's Supper
The Lord's Supper should strengthen Christians. The memory of the Lord Jesus Christ is source of praise, inspiration and dedication. It is a spiritual feast. But not all are blessed when they eat. Each Sunday thousands of Christians are condemned for partaking.
They are not condemned for using of some improper form or words. They are
condemned because they do not "remember the body of the Lord" (I Cor. 11:29).
The Lord's Supper is a matter of the heart - the heart of man and God. What
a Christian thinks during the feast is all important.
The Lord knew it was easy not to focus - to loose the constant remembrance
of Him. He asked His followers to renew their remembrance when they ate the
bread and drank the fruit of the vine. While Christians work, talk and play they
often loose focus on the Lord. Other matters become more important. They do
not think about Him. The Lord's Supper is a special, sacred time to meditate, to
concentrate - to refocus on the Lord.
In this special time, if thoughts are not on the Lord, there is a "judgment", a
The Kipsigis and the Lord's Supper
The Christians of the Kipsigis tribe in Africa understand the seriousness of
the Supper. They refuse to eat the Lord's Supper if they have an unresolved
argument with a Christian or were involved in some shady barter. These
problems make it difficult for them to focus on the body and blood of Christ. And
they are convinced unfocused participation will bring harm.
Americans and the Lord's Supper
American churches have tried many material prompts to set a mood for the
Lord's Supper. They place candles in window sills, the flickering lights illuminate
stained glass windows. In liturgical tones, they read passages about the death
Observances of the Lord's Supper
Observances of the Lord's Supper can, in fact must, be fresh and inspiring.
Christians must become embarrassed in the face of the flagrant, nonfocused
eating and drinking. They must face up to the problem and find a solution. "If
we judged ourselves, we would not come under the judgment" (I Cor. 11:31).
The best way to focus is to have a wholesome regular relationship with the
Lord and brethren. When sin or hard feelings intrude, repentance should be
A directed period of prayer and confession prior to the Lord's Supper would
help brethren focus. Where there is not such directed period the Christians
ought to begin their meditation at the Supper with private confession.
Those selected to lead the congregation in the Lord's Supper must take their
responsibility seriously. Repetitive scripture readings and memorized prayers
cause the congregation to slight the Supper. Those leading the congregation
should spent time at home in prayer and preparation in order to inspire the
congregation to "remember the body of the Lord."
Making the Feast Fresh
There are many ways to make the feast fresh. Introspection is often
inspiring. The leader can confess occasions personal laxness in partaking. He
could share with the congregation what he most often thinks about when he is
focused during the supper. What specifics does he remember when he
remembers the Lord.
The leader should meditate at home on the gospel accounts of Jesus' birth
death and resurrection. These passages reveal insights that can inspire a
congregation. The following questions should be asked while reading. Why is
the passage worth remembering? If it is remembered what can it do for the
Christian? Does it relate more to the loaf or to the cup?
Recalling the circumstance around memorable communion services can
cause the congregation to focus. Memories inspire. What were the
circumstances? What did were the emotions? The leader may remember the
first time he ate the Supper. The first communion service after the death of a
loved one may have been memorable. Share it.
Pastors and elders need to periodically challenge those who stand before the
table to be creative and serious when leading the congregation. Those who lead
well should instruct the group how to prepare for leading the Supper.
It is not only the leaders' responsibility to make the Lord's Supper meaningful.
Members of the Church
Each member should be an example to those around him during the sacred
feast. This is not the time for pretense, but Christians should look as though
they are "remembering the Lord." Rustling with a program or correcting children
can be distracting. When one Christian is unfocused he should be able to look
at his brothers and be reminded that he needs to focus himself on the Lord.
Failure to set the right tone or example for partaking in the Lord's Supper can
cause many to "eat and drink condemnation." Causing Christians to focus
leads to a fellowship of blessing.