For Christians who have a historic and biblical understanding of Communion, nothing should strike more fear in them than being barred from the Lord’s Table. That threat, the ultimate penalty of church discipline, is a metaphoric firing line. It is an allegory of the ecclesiastical death penalty. To be forbidden from observing the Body and Blood of Christ (Luke 22:19) is the ultimate sanction against unrepentant sinners, designed by God to invoke fear and trembling.
For the Savior who said that if we do not eat his body and drink his blood we have no part of him (John 6:54), the regular observance of this symbolic feast is illustrative of his very propitiatory salvation. Unfortunately, many evangelicals have a woefully low view of the ordinances, and some have no problem blaspheming the Supper by laughing gayly while downing Goldfish crackers and Capris Sun in their underpants. The rest have no problem waiting a month, two months, six months, or whenever Caesar says it’s okay to observe their religion.
The non-irony of forbidding someone the Lord’s Table, a terrible and last-resort penalty my church has only handed down half a dozen times in twice as many years, is that those who are sentenced with the curse have little concern for it. Unironically and as-expected, those handed over to Satan by being forbidden the Table rarely care. They are, after all – by the judgment of the church – unrepentant and until determined otherwise, lost.
Lost people don’t care about Communion. But on rare occasions, and I have seen it personally, a disciplined member crawls back spiritually starved and shaken after a period of months, begging in repentant sackcloth and contrite ashes, having felt the consequences of discipline weigh upon their spirit. Like spiritual beggars (aren’t we all), the lack of this supernatural Means of Grace brings them to repentance. When the sinners go gleefully about their sin never hungering for the sacrament, the church should know it acted wisely in separating a goat or wolf from the fold of God.
Churches who refused to meet because of a virus that falls far short of the Pale Rider who will kill a quarter of the world with pestilence (Revelation 6:8), have excommunicated themselves from the Table of Christ, and thus we should presume it to be the will of God to chasten them.
Any number of creative measures could have been taken by these backslidden, luke-warm, Laodicean churches to mitigate threats of the Chinese Virus. Although a virus with a .1 percent fatality right doesn’t need much mitigation at all, Christ’s churches excelled at creativity during this crisis. Some assembled out of doors. Some assembled in their cars. Some took other appropriate measures to maintain distancing. And yet, other churches chose not to assemble at all and instead settled for non-assemblies of Zoom meetings, often infiltrated with pedophiles and perverts (if ever there was poetic justice in the form of metaphor, it is that).
Even after many weeks of the data suggesting the Chinese Virus was much ado about nothing, with similar fatality rates to any number of far-more-common ailments seen seasonally each year in their church bodies, pastors doubled-down on their commitment to the idol of safety. Soon, those clamoring for “science” and “medical consensus” dug-in on their epidemiological superstitions and refused to accept newer, better data that suggested the distancing restrictions were either counter-productive or – at best – unimpactful. Most pastors cast their lot with government nanny-statists and against Jesus, and to this day, some have not re-opened their doors in a bizarre defying of empirical reality. Their pride and ill-informed stupidity, not to mention their cold heart towards Jesus, has kept them away from the sacred assembly.
But more than just missing church, these congregations have been disciplined by God and stricken from the Lord’s Table. Week after week goes by without them coming together to observe the highest form of worship and the greatest Means of Grace.
Good, we should say. They should avoid the Supper for however long it takes for them to become repentant. I pray they starve for spiritual food and find themselves pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17).
For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (1 Corinthians 11:30).
It would be to their detriment if these congregations met again any time soon to draw their chairs up to the Table. God might smite them. May they return when they are ready to admit their errors and repent of their sins.
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