Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Bread and the Blood

I had an interesting reflection last Sunday. I don't want to call it a revelation, as it wasn't that strong or clear. More of just a thought or reflection. Maybe I'm off track, or maybe I just wasn't hearing God's voice that clearly...

Anyway, we had our 5 year anniversary at Solid Rock Easter weekend and last Sunday was kind of a family chat going over the direction the church is heading. We then went into Heb 12:1 and Matt 18:1. Afterwards, we took communion as usual.

At Solid Rock communion is a little different. While the worship band plays, everyone goes up to the tables as they choose and goes back and has communion by themselves. It is a personal time with God as opposed to a corporate thing as with every other church I've been a part of. Personally, I like it. The lights are down low and there is ample time to get right with God.

As I was sitting there reflecting on the message and praying, I sensed that God was moving me away from the usual focus of the Bread as Christ's flesh and the Juice as Christ's blood. Not to start heresy, as I firmly believe that the bread does symbolize Christ's body and the juice (wine) the remembrance of Christ's sacrifice for us. The washing away of our sin by His blood. But I felt that He was opening my mind to a more personal and practical application of that truth.

In 1 Corinth 10:16, Paul refers to the communion as the fellowship of the body and blood of Christ. Later in 1 Corinth 12:27 he refers to us as Christ's body, with each of us having a part.

God took me to a place on Sunday where I took my focus solely of Christ's body and saw what he was doing through His Church. Again, this isn't taking anything away from my devotion to Christ, but a recognition of His work through the body of believers. It is Christ who came to teach us how to live a life acceptable to God, and it is us who are walking that life out. Christ ministers to other's through us. Christ ministers to us through others. Not only are we a part of the body of Christ, but we need the rest of the body to be complete.

Where I had a problem with this reflection was with the blood. There is no way that we, a broken and sinful people could ever wash away the sin of others. It is Christ's sacrifice alone that allows us into the presence of God. His one-time sacrifice was sufficient for all. Christ's sacrifice has ushered in a new covenant between God and the follower's of Christ.

But there is still a part for the church to play in the blood and this new covenant. Yes, communion is in remembrance of his sacrifice and the washing away of our sin, but it also is a reminder for us that we are to help administer that forgiveness to others. While we can't wash away any one's sins, we don't have to hold their sins against them. We are to help the lost understand what Christ has done and prayerfully lead them into a saving relationship with Christ. We are to come alongside struggling Christians and help them walk through the issues that they are struggling with and administer His healing balm.

Just as Christ loves us we are to love others. If God has forgiven a sinner, who are we to hold their sin against them.

The next time you take communion, after a time of personal reflection, take your eyes off yourself and look at the big picture. Look around you at the Body of Christ and ask God what He is doing and what part you are to play in it. Where are you to spread a little of that precious blood?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Love of a Father For His Son

Amazing how time flys when you are sick. I've been fighting the crud and allergies since my Birthday. Ain't 51 fun...

I've been contemplating Easter for several days and wanting to look at it from a very simple, human perspective. It's easy to get too bogged down in the Theological particulars and ramifications, but we often overlook a very simple, yet challenging fact. The love of the Father for his son and how that relates to us today.

To set the stage, I called my own father when my son was about one. I was in tears as I was overwhelmed by my love for my son and the awareness of how much my father loved me. Prior to experiencing it for myself, I couldn't comprehend the depth of that love. It was different from any other love I had experienced. Certainly different then my love for my parents or siblings, and even different than my love for my wife. And it was much more tangible than my love for God. But it also gave me more of an awareness of how much God loves me.

It dawned on me that the exchanges and emotions we shared are given to us by God and are a reflection of Christ's obedience to His Father and the love of the Father for his son, and by extension, His love for us.

Christ went to the cross not so that he could defeat Satan, although that fact is true. He went to the cross so that we could be restored into a relationship with our heavenly father. It was the only way. Our sin separates us from God. His justice demands that sin be atoned for. But His mercy desires that none should perish. God has provided a way for all who believe in Him to not only avoid Hell, but be in a loving relationship with Him. While he died for our sins, His victory is that He rose from the grave. That is the significance of Easter. Christ defeated death and sits at the right hand of God.

Christ loves us so much that he was willing to take our sins upon himself so that we could have that relationship. God loves us so much that he provided the way for His Justice to be served and His mercy to be realized. What is so amazing to me is that God knew all of this before time as we know it began and Christ knew that I would continue to sin even after accepting salvation. Yet He still took my sins upon himself and died for me.

No matter how far our sins have separated us from Him, when we make that simple confession with a sincere and contrite heart that we are sorry for our past lives, acknowledge our need for forgiveness and salvation and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then we are restored back into that relationship with the God of love.

As I think about the sacrifices that I would make for my son, it humbles me to think of the depth of the sacrifice that Christ made for me. I would do anything in my power to give Timmy that which I felt the strongest about. But I could never do what Christ did.