I was thinking, after breaking bread last Sunday, that I should share my thoughts about inviting not-yet-believers to participate in communion, especially in the light of Paul’s teachings in Corinthians regarding believers sharing at the table in a wrong way. My thinking goes like this:
1. The breaking of bread in the NT was always part of a meal, probably an extension of the common blessing at the start of the evening meal. It certainly was a part of most house to house gatherings and probably even every Christian family’s evening meal – since, after all, the family was ‘two or three gathered in my name’.
2. For the believer this was no longer, however, simply ‘saying grace’, but a recognition that the risen Christ was among them. The common cup now spoke of their redemption and the common loaf now spoke of their unity. Now, every time that they ate or drank together, they were to remind themselves of what Christ’s death had done for them and check that they were living that out in their relationships.
3. Failure to do this was a trampling and belittling of what Christ had done, a violation of the revelation they had received, and could result in sickness or even death.
4. For the non-believer at the table, however, there was no such revelation. For them it was just their hosts ‘saying grace’ and the wine was wine and the bread was bread – nothing more. And, since the bread and wine do not undergo some mystical change, that is all it was. Without revelation they would be simply enjoying a meal with some Christian friends, with no violation of their conscience.
5. The idea that they would be asked to not participate in the meal would have been unthinkable to Jesus and the hope would have been that as they did participate they would come into a revelation of the Christ who was there in the feast. Should that happen they would then come under the need to ‘examine themselves’ to make sure they were living according to their new revelation.
6. In any case Paul (and the Holy Spirit) is far more concerned with the way Christians break bread than non-Christians. We have no excuse. We have revelation and will be judged accordingly.
This is open for discussion and I would love some feed back on it, either for or against. I’ll look for ‘comments’.