“So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 11:27-30
Do we take communion seriously enough? Regardless of our church traditions when it comes to this sacrament (Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, Symbolic) do we realize what a big deal communion is? It is so big that Paul warns those who partake in it that they are sipping down judgment, not wine, if they do so without taking their sin and Christ’s cross seriously in the process.
Think about that for a moment. The Eucharist, taken in a nonchalant way, is like playing Russian roulette with God’s divine sacraments. It is like drinking arsenic, not grape juice. And I don’t mean this in a symbolic way. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that this was the reason that “many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”
When Paul says that many of them had “fallen asleep” he is not referring to a cat nap or a sacred siesta. It is more like the Tony Soprano dirt nap of death. Think of angelic hitmen dispatched from heaven during communion time in Corinth to push the “instant sanctification button” called death. The only fine Corinthian leather some of these carnal Christians would enjoy, if they stayed on their sin strewn path, would be on the inside of their caskets.
Hebrews 10:29 provides this stark warning to believers, “How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” To take communion in a flippant way is to treat the blood of Christ as an unholy thing. And that is not only dangerous, but deadly.
To take communion seriously is to take the cross of Christ seriously. It is to take the Christian life seriously. It is take God seriously. This blessed sacrament is our weekly or monthly wake up call that, this same Jesus who died for our sins long ago, is coming back someday soon to judge the living and the dead.
Let us rejoice that communion is a sacrament that can help to sanctify us on our journey to becoming more like Jesus. But, at the same time, let us soberly reflect that this same sacrament that can kill us if we take it in an unworthy manner. May the searchlight of God’s Spirit scour our hearts for undealt with sin as we break unleavened bread. May our hands tremble a bit the next time we pick up that cup and lift it to our lips. And then may we fully and truly rejoice in our soul of souls as we reflect on his broken body and shed blood on our behalf.