What is the first thought that comes to mind when we think of “Communion”? Is it an event that we attend where bread and wine is served? Is it a set part of our church’s order of worship? Remember, the question was “What is the first thought that comes to mind…”
Nowhere in the entire Bible does it say that we need to “participate in communion” or “take communion” or “attend communion” or “hold communion”. Let that sink in for a bit.
The following verse in the King James Version is closest that the Bible comes to saying this:
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (1 Cor 10:16 KJV)
All the other translations say that we Share in/Participate of/Partake of/Fellowship with the blood and body of Christ. All these words can be used interchangeably with “communion”. So to have communion of the blood and the body means to literally partake of/share/participate in it. It’s not something we can “take” or “hold”.
Just to illustrate the point, let’s replace “communion” with “partake” and use it like most Christians would use it in a sentence today:
“John, are we going to attend the partake service tonight?”
“When was the last time you took partake”?
“We are having partake tonight, you wanna join us?”
“The church up the road is holding partake next Sunday, I think we should go check out how they do it.”
In the first century the Christians ate together every day and while they were breaking the bread and drinking wine (which formed a natural part of their diet), they remembered/discerned the body and blood of Christ. This is what it means to eat the bread and drink the cup in a worthy manner and to experience the benefits of what Christ accomplished for us, which includes walking in full, divine health.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. (1 Cor 11:27-30 ESV)
For centuries all across the world the wonderful privilege of partaking of the Lord’s body and blood has been reduced to a ceremonial rite filled with fear, self-consciousness and religiosity, largely because of a misinterpretation of the above verses. So what then does it mean to eat and drink in an unworthy manner and bring damnation or judgment upon oneself? Well, the answer is found in the very same verse: “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.”
It simply means to not discern the Lord’s body while eating the bread, resulting in us not walking in fullness of health and possibly dying prematurely, which is what happened with some people in Corinth. Jesus didn’t simply purchase our salvation at the cross, he also purchased our healing. In fact, the same Greek word (sōzō) is used interchangeably in the Bible to talk about being healed and being saved.
It’s God’s will for all His children to live a long, healthy life, but we have an enemy who is constantly on the prowl to bring condemnation, damnation, judgment and destruction on us. So when we are troubled with sickness the bread serves to help us remember how the body of Christ was broken for us to purchase our healing (so that our bodies don’t have to be broken/sick) and how we can receive the healing and health which has already been freely given to us. The power does not lie in the bread and wine itself – they are merely symbolic. They are purely a tool to direct our minds to the power of the real substance of the body and the blood of Christ Himself. This is also the reason why it’s good to break bread every day, because in doing this we are reminded daily of how divine health was purchased for us. By meditating on this compelling truth we are empowered to start walking in its reality in greater and greater degrees.
So why bother to get the terminology right? Simple: by using the word “communion” incorrectly (saying that we can hold or have “it”) we reinforce the notion that it’s an event or an object, some kind of special occasion that we get to indulge in from time to time. The modern day church has even thought up a name for this type of religious rite: It’s called a “sacrament”, meaning that in certain denominations only members of the clergy (ordained church leadership) are allowed to serve the bread and the wine. “Normal believers” are not allowed to defile the table by touching the bread or the wine before it is handed to them by a deacon or an elder.
But when we use the word correctly (saying that we have communion WITH/partake OF the blood and the body of Christ) it brings about an entirely new mindset, in that it serves to remind us of our existing unity with God. It’s a quality/trait/attribute that every Christian possesses. So whenever we eat the bread and drink the blood we are reminded of this unity, which stirs our faith and allows us to receive from God that which is already ours.