Discerning the Body

I was preparing for the Lord’s Supper at the Gathering at Egret Bay last week when I had a moment that made me think about Bold Love.

You’ve heard this text many times in preparation for the Lord’s Supper. Paul writes:

”For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” 1 Corinthians 11:23-24

Then he adds this, as part of correcting the Corinthian’s great misunderstanding of the meaning and purpose of the Lord’s Supper:                                    

”Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” 1 Corinthians 11: 27-29

If we eat and drink without “discerning the body” we eat and drink in an “unworthy manor,” and are therefore guilty concerning the body and blood of Jesus – “guilty” meaning we disrespect the meal.

When we come to the table we are to examine ourselves, discern the body, and then eat. We examine ourselves to remember our own sinfulness. Remember you annoy some people and make some people angry. Examine yourself and recognize that for someone else you are the in-grown toenail in the body of Christ.

Remember Jesus’ body was broken and blood shed for every believer; not just you, and not just me. Every believer – even the ones who drive you crazy, make you angry, even the ones who are stuck in a pattern of sin… We are the body.

As our Father graciously responds to us we must respond to each other – forgive, bear with, submit, have patience with, be considerate of. We must “discern the body.”

Here is my Bold Love moment: if we stopped with obediently doing those things it would be good, it just wouldn’t be enough to truly glorify Jesus and to truly honor the Lord’s Supper, because Jesus wanted more for us.

Think about this part of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples in the upper room:

“All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” John 17:10-11 

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:20-23

Jesus repeats in prayer that his glory in this world right now, and the key to his mission, is our perfect oneness. As Father is in Son, Son is in us, and he prays so we would be one with each other.

We have awesome campuses, inspiring music, engaging teaching, amazing ministries, and people going all over the community doing great things to love their neighbors. That is all good! It is just that Jesus doesn’t say his mission or his glory is dependent on any of those things.

Jesus says the world will believe the Father sent the Son when the oneness we, his followers, share is a perfect picture of the glory of Jesus’ oneness with the Father – he prays for that!

Bold Love? We can serve in schools and stock food pantries and volunteer all over the 4B area. But, if as we do that stuff we disrespect, gossip about, are indifferent to, carry grudges – you know, do all the things we so often and casually do to each other in the body – Jesus would say we undermine his glory and his mission.

Don’t save it for the next time you are preparing to take the Lord’s Supper. The next time you are preparing to volunteer or to take a meal to someone, take time to “discern the body.” What is going on with you and any other believer that mitigates against oneness with the body of Christ? Go do something about that first, then go be a volunteer in the community.

– Greg Poore, Associate Pastor

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