On the same occasion Jesus put in place this memory meal, he prayed fervently for the unity of those who would assemble around his table. Sadly, this table has often divided those “who believe in him,” the ones for whom he prayed (John 17:20).
Churches have had significant and insignificant disputes about the Lord’s table. There have been disputes over who should be at the table. Over which believers should be present. Over what the emblems should look like. Over how often the emblems should be available. Over such small matters as to when in the worship hour the celebration should be made.
But, every assembly for the bread and the cup must be a focused call for the unity of believers. The basic doctrines of Christianity cry out here: “Incarnation!” and “Sacrificial Atonement!” Jesus, God of creation, became flesh and blood—flesh and blood that would be given freely for the redemption of all people from their sins. That is the unifying truth.
We all share the weaknesses of being flesh and blood, the weakness of decay and death. But thanks be to God for his unfathomable gift for which our words are inadequate: there is life, eternal life, in Christ Jesus. For all who believe that he is the Christ, that he came in the flesh, that he willingly died for us, this table unites.
To sit here, to partake here, is to reaffirm our faith, our unifying faith. To sit here, to partake here is to continue to demonstrate our submission to his lordship. He has said, “Do this!” and so we do. Here we identify with all those who have confessed their faith in him. Here we recognize our unity of faith, the lordship of Christ.
Let no one quibble about who should or should not be here. Let no one quarrel over the manner in which the emblems are presented. Let no one fuss about the placement of these acts in the whole series of worship elements. Let all—in the spirit of unity—affirm loudly: “We believe that Jesus is God’s Christ incarnate and our only redemption and salvation!” And with that affirmation, we partake.
Ron Davis, former professor of Christian education at Cincinnati Bible Seminary, resides in North College Hill, Ohio, and serves with Lifespring Christian Church.