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Discern the Body

Communion meditation for smallgroup 3/17/2009


Now that you have 1 Corinthians freshly in your mind, think of where the passage in 1 Corinthians 11 lies in the flow of thought.

Chapters 8-10, Paul is exorting the Corinthians to think of others over themselves: Don't use the freedom that Christ has given you to cause another brother to stumble. In all that you do, Paul says at the end of chapter 10, glorify God and and to basically think of pleasing others above yourself; don't seek your own advantage, seek theirs. The Corinthians didn't think of themselves as part of a body, part of the church. They only thought of themselves.

Then chapter 12-14, Paul speaks of how self-centered the Corinthians have been in their use and view of gifts. They have missed the point of the gifts, which is the building up of the body in love. The Corinthians didn't think of themselves as part of a body, part of the church. They only thought of themselves.

Now right in the middle of those exortations we find Pauls discussion of the Lord's Supper. What do the bread and juice represent? The juice points to Christ's blood that flowed from his physical body, represented by the bread, which was given to purchase this body of believers: the church. Yet even at this table which should have pointed the selfish Corinthians away from themselves to see themselves as part of Christ's body, the church, they were only thinking about themselves. The Corinthians didn't think of themselves as part of a body.

They didn't discern that those gathered at the table with them were the body of Christ. That is what Paul means in chapter 11, verse 29 when he says that the Corinthians were eating and drinking without discerning the body. The body to be discerned is not just the piece of bread on the table, but the body at the table.

How well are you doing at discerning the body when you gather on Sundays or for smallgroup? What were you most aware of when you showed up today to group: pleasing yourself or pleasing those around you?

Why do you share what you share, to make yourself feel better or to build up the body and be built up by the body? In the conversations you just finished, were you more aware of yourself or using that opportunity to build up the body? Are you annoyed when the kids are noisy, or are excited that you get to serve the family by being patient? How often do you pray for this body and use your spiritual gifts to love and serve each other throughout the week?

To adapt a paragraph from Dever's chapter: "[When] we gather as Christians [at church or at smallgroup], we do not gather merely to have our personal devotions together. The [gathering] is not just your quiet time. We do not gather to pray, sing, and read Scripture like we do the other days of the week at home except that on Sundays [or Tuesdays] we do it with more people around because it is encouraging. No, we come to participate in the life of our church. And when we come, we come not as individual consumers to do our spiritual shopping for the week, seeing what's of use down this aisle of singing or down that aisle of prayer, looking over the sermon special, browsing through conversations, [or learning what's good on the theology shelf], and taking it all home in our carts for personal use. We actually assemble as a living institution, a viable organism, one body.

We will forget this, so Jesus gave us something to do together when we gather so that we do not forget this. The juice points to Christ's blood that flowed from his physical body, represented by the bread, which was given to purchase this body of believers.

As we pass the bread and juice around repent of sins where necessary and receive this gracious reminder of Christ's death that purchased Christ's body, the church. Marvel at God's gracious love and be moved by that love to love others. Then hold the bread and juice and we will, as a body together, remember Christ's body and blood given for us.

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Title: Discern the Body
Date posted: 18 2 '09 - 16:35
Category: Communion Preparation
Wordcount: 709 words
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