Alan Knox has a great post this morning describing the gathering of the church last Sunday where he and his family assemble: Meeting Around the Table of the Lord. Take a gander at what Alan describes and see if this doesn’t sound to you like what the early church would likely have been doing. Then ask if people gathering for an hour wearing their Easter best to sing a couple of songs and listen to a monologue makes anywhere near as much sense.
What I really appreciated was the proper focus on the Owner of the Table: It remains his table, not ours.
That is great! That should also prompt some questions about the Lord’s Table that we perhaps take as a given.
To whom does the table belong?
Who gets to decide who shares the table?
Who gets to decide what the breaking of bread and the passing of the cup means?
The Table of the Lord is about Him, what He has done. We gather around that table because of what He has done for us. When we place extra-Biblical restrictions on the Table, we overstep our authority. The only reason I see in Scripture for denying the Table is unrepentant sin. Not doctrinal quibbles, not being unfamiliar, not for any of the reasons we trot out to deny the Table to others who are not in lockstep uniformity with our doctrines. By denying a brother or sister the fellowship of the Table, we imply that they are in the same standing as an unrepentant sinner that we refuse to break bread with (1 Cor 5:11). Paul was very clear that we should examine ourselves before coming to the Supper (1 Cor 11: 27-29), not submitting to examination from someone else based on the rules of that local church. I might go so far as to suggest that those who partake of the Supper while denying it to a brother or sister are partaking in an unworthy fashion by wrongly dividing the people of God and in doing so are bringing condemnation upon themselves.
It is indeed His Table, not ours and we deny that Table to other Christians at our own peril.