More Than Taking Part
Taking part in something is not just an activity; it is a statement about what you value. Idolatry was rife in Corinth; not just the ceremonies at the pagan temples, but acceptance of the associated immoral culture. When people believed in Jesus, some brought their past culture into the church; in much the same way that the Israelites who left Egypt took some of the pagan Egyptian ethos with them into the wilderness. Their sins of immorality, defying God and grumbling were equally idolatrous, ending in disease and death – a warning to all believers not to set their hearts on anybody, or anything, other than serving the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:1-11).
Paul instructed the church to have nothing to do with idolatry in any of its forms. They should run away from it like escaping from a house on fire, or from an area infected with a deadly disease. They were not to play with it, or think that they could take part in some of it, without allowing it to invade their hearts (1 Timothy 6:11).
The correlation with communion is striking. We can only legitimately take bread and wine if we admit we are a sinner for whom Christ's body was broken and His blood shed. Our taking part is a statement that the suffering of the Lord Jesus was because of our sin. We have been involved both in the agony of Calvary which is why we celebrate His sacrifice for our sin by participating in the communion. We do not just take part in a rite, because He has made us a part of His body. As that is so, what right have we to take part in idolatrous activity (1 Corinthians 10:21)?
If we are trusting in Jesus, we are part of the body of Christ. Communion is not just a religious activity but a personal statement that we are a sinner who has turned away from habitual sinful activity, because we are now part of Christ's body. Worshipping money or sex or power or fame is not just an activity; it takes a spiritual hold of you unless you decide to run away from it. It may get you further in this world, but not in the next. Belonging to Jesus Christ is a whole life encounter, so decide to run from idols (2 Corinthians 5:15): and let the only true God make you like Himself (1 John 3:2).
© Dr Paul Adams