Toward the end of a lengthy prayer, shortly before his arrest, Jesus said, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you” (John 17:20, 21, New Living Translation).
Jesus prayed for unity among his people because he understood that bickering Christians preaching love would be about as effective in spreading the gospel as a 300-pound man recommending a new weight-loss program. Everybody knows inconsistency kills credibility. When what you’re doing starts conflicting with what you’re saying, you’re well on your way to becoming a laughingstock.
This, of course, is why Satan tries so hard to create disunity in the body of Christ. He knows that by turning Christian brothers and sisters against each other, he can make a bigger dent in the gospel’s credibility than a thousand atheists arguing against the existence of God. Research shows that if you ask 10 people why they don’t go to church, the majority will cite hypocrisy among Christians as a primary reason.
Our Lord, having prayed for our unity, obviously wants us to promote and guard it like a precious jewel, and that’s part of what we’re doing when we gather as a family around the Lord’s table. Yes, we’re proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes, but we’re also proclaiming our solidarity. By eating the bread and drinking the juice together we are saying there is something that binds us that is greater than any differences we may have.
For this reason, I am certain that Satan hates the Communion service and can’t wait until it’s over. I can just imagine him cringing and fuming as this most unique expression of solidarity spreads up and down every row and touches every heart, healing wounds and melting differences along the way. It’s probably true that the church is never more right with God than during these few moments, and that Satan is never more impotent.
Some people say it’s possible to have the Lord’s Supper too often. They say it will become meaningless and ritualistic if we overdo it. Doesn’t that sound suspiciously like something the one who hates Communion would want us to believe?
I say we should seize and savor every opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Christ and our love for each other.
Mark Atteberry serves as senior minister with Poinciana Christian Church, Kissimmee, Florida.