Monday, July 23, 2007

The Table of Union

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
The Table of the Lord is the table of His body, and His body is one. At His table, we all eat of the one bread and drink of the one cup. We do not just partake of Him individually, but together as His body. No matter where we are geographically, we all share in communion with Him, and therefore with each other. We have this communion not only with those of His body who still walk this planet, but also with all the saints who have lived since the beginning of the Church. The Table of the Lord is the sign of this unity.

When I was young, I used to see an old cartoon, which featured a number of vignettes. One of those scenes showed a mailman sorting mail. In this cartoon world, this mailman was actually an octopus, busily sorting the mail into a wall full of slots. It was funny enough watching the him going at it with all eight tentacles, but then we were shown that, on the other side of the wall, all the slots emptied into one mail pouch.

Sometimes I think about that at the Table of the Lord. We all take of the bread and the cup, each of us “sorting” it into our own individual mouths — but then, behind the scenes, it all enters into the same body, the body of Christ.

In the passage above, Paul speaks of the unity we have in Christ, and how we shall walk in view of it. We should be humble, gentle and patient with each other, even putting up with each other for the sake of love.

We are to be diligent to hold on to the unity we have in Christ, who is our peace. For we do not create this unity; we receive it through faith in Jesus Christ, who has given His Spirit to each one of us. Our job is simply to live that out. The Message puts it this way: “pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.”

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul describes this unity, and how to keep it, this way:
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:1-8)
This is the mind of Christ for the body of Christ.

All those who come to faith in Jesus Christ are made one in Him. We are His body. We see this in the Table of the Lord, the Table of Union with Him.

Years ago, I wrote a little song about the Table of the Lord and the unity we have in Him. It’s called “Celebration” and you can listen to it in streaming MP3. It's from our first CD, Walking Barefoot.