What Nazarenes Are Made of pt 3 and This Week It's a Shorter Article... I Promise!
Wow three weeks on the same subject, four if you count the misfire two weeks ago. I really had trouble putting my thoughts together for that one! Anyway this will be the last week we look at the foundational beliefs of the Church of the Nazarene, then we can go on to something else.
(Yay something new!)
I won't say as much this blog. The video covers the Nazarene views on communion, baptism, Christ's return and the end times.
About communion, the Naz- arene church has an open table policy which means that we will serve anyone communion as long as they profess belief in Jesus as their savior. A person not being served communion is almost unheard of in our denomination.
That said, I actually had to deny communion to someone one time. This particular person was a friend of mine who was Agnostic. It's not that this person didn't believe God was real, he just wanted proof. Well, he was getting married and his bride to be asked if they could be served communion as part of the ceremony.
It was probably one of the hardest decisions in my ministry. I could not prove to my friend's liking that God was real, and he could not admit to me that Christ was his savior.
(Why, it's just communion, it's no big deal. Right?)
WRONG, it is a big deal. While there is nothing magical about the elements of communion, there is something very powerful in the symbolism we use. To me it points back to Christ's death on the cross. How he was beaten and bruised for us, and how his blood was shed for us. Remember, last week I said sin caused us to be in a hopeless situation. Without Christ dying in our place, we have no hope!
Communion is not Christian refreshments, sermon snack time, or just bread and juice. It is a symbolic reliving of that horrible event that ended in glory 3 days later!
I love this quote from gotquestions.org when someone asked: why should you examine yourself [before communion] (1 Corinthians 11::28).
Paul is essentially asking the people to do a “heart check” before communion. Are their hearts in the right spot? Are they eating the meal to remember Christ's sacrifice and to engage in community? Are they divided among themselves or unified in Christ? Are they actually having communion, or are they just selfishly satisfying their own appetites?
Many churches today preface the passing of the elements with two warnings: 1) Don’t take communion unless you are a follower of Christ. It is too precious a thing to treat as a meaningless religious ritual; and 2) Be sure you’re up to date with God regarding any unconfessed sins or un-surrendered areas in your life. In other words, perform a “heart check” on yourself. It is important to note here that being “up to date” does not imply perfection. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:31–32 that we are to judge ourselves appropriately and allow the Lord to discipline and sanctify us. We should have the psalmist’s attitude when he prayed, “Forgive my hidden faults” (Psalm 19:12).
Because of this, there have been times where I have refused to take communion because my heart just wasn't in the right place with God.
(Wait a sec, you're in ministry. Aren't you beyond all that?)
Nope, ministers are people too. We don't get things right all the time, and like everyone else on this planet, we can get into stinker mode and fight against doing what we know God wants us to do. Our hearts can be in the wrong place.
I have great respect for the Christian, pastor or otherwise, who passes on communion because they are not yet right with God. It's a very hard thing to do, especially when you are in ministry because you feel the constant pressure to keep up appearances. It would be so much easier to go along with the crowd.
By the way, pray for your pastors and their families. There is so much more to the job than just showing up on Sunday mornings, evenings, and Wednesdays to preach a sermon. I have known many that were on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week, being woken up at all hours of the night to go and pray with people. Having to carry the problems and burdens of their congregation, some of whom don't get along and sees it as the pastor's job to fix the problem, is no picnic. And many pastors carry the burden of discouragement, because a congregation's spiritual progress is often slow. Years can go by without seeing the fruit you are expecting. Ministry is a career that is so beyond their ability to do without God's help, and yet it is so easy to end up trying to do it on one's own strength.
Anyway enough of the soapbox. TO THE VIDEO!!