by J. Randal Matheny
Like a broom, the Lord’s Supper sweeps away all the detritus, accumulated junk and lesser concerns of our lives. At the table, we see clearly the One Thing in this world that really matters.
The death and life proclaimed in communion is the acted reality of Paul’s exhortation in Colossians 3:1-4:
“Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Keep thinknig about things above, not things on the earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him.”
Paul was not thinking about the Lord’s Supper when he wrote these words, but they are thoughts most appropriate when we eat the bread and drink the cup.
If you have been raised with Christ. There is no doubt here. This truth serves as the basis for the imperatives to keep seeking and thinking. Earlier Paul had considered the meaning of dying with Christ (2:20-23); now he points them upward to the resurrection they received with the Lord.
Keep seeking the things above. The effort is continual. The goal of seeking is clear. Salvation is by grace, but that means greater effort, not less, and with a different motivation.
Where Christ is. Christians continually seek the things above because that is where their Lord is. They remember his promise that where he is, they may be also.
Seated at the right hand of God. He sits enthroned. His is the place of honor. With all authority he oversees his kingdom, and awaits the word from the Father to descend and claim his own.
Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth. The Supper focuses our thoughts on these things above, sweeping away the earthly things. We need this command, since earthly things are visible, but temporary, while the things above are invisible and eternal. We cannot risk having our focus averted from the latter.
For you have died. We were dead in our transgressions (2:13), but now have died (cut all ties to) the things of this world (3:20). We have no more interest in this world; our time and efforts are invested in eternal things, so this truth serves as the basis for our thinking.
And your life is hidden with Christ in God. The Christian does not hide physically from the world, but God protects him and places him in secure and intimate relationship with Christ. Our real life is not here, but together with Christ. It is not obvious or perceived from a worldly point of view. If our life is already there, so should be our thoughts.
When Christ (who is your life) shall appear. When Christ comes again, the hidden things will be manifest. Our hidden life will reverberate and shine forth. If Paul earlier echoed Matthew 6:33, now we hear the Lord’s words again: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He is not only the life, but our life.
Then you too will be revealed in glory with him. Our experience with Christ continues and will unfold further as we are united with him in his appearing. This refers to his second coming. At the table we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again.
What powerful thoughts are these to consider as we gather around the table and eat together!
With them are swept away all the earthly, visible, perishing things of this world. What remains is what matters.
by J. Randal Matheny