NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Emerson Lin. Emerson and his wife Annie (and their son) are serving as AMI missionaries in E. Asia. A graduate of University of California, San Diego, he will soon finish his M.Div. program at Bethel Seminary in San Diego.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
1 Corinthians 11:27-32
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
In this passage, Paul reminds the Corinthian church several dimensions to communion. He begins by recalling the words of Christ who, after breaking the bread, said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” This signifies the fact that Jesus died on the cross in our place, so that we do not have to bear God’s punishment. The apostle follows that up with a dimension of hope by recalling the rest of Jesus’ words: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” As Christians, we do not only remember his death, but also anticipate his return when he will restore all things new.
The dimension I want to focus on today is the dimension of community reconciliation. “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.” While some may interpret this passage as focusing on the holiness of this meal, many scholars believe that Paul had in mind disunity within the church.
In Roman culture, your status determined where you ate your meal in the house. Those of high status ate in an area called the triclinium, where the choice foods and wine were saved for them. Those of poor status ate in an area called the atrium, where they were served the leftovers. This food culture brought division into the church, and it infuriated Paul. As such, Paul warned the church that they must examine themselves in this area of community reconciliation.
Like the Corinthians, while we may not struggle with status related to food, we do struggle with division. This disunity may manifest in the form of refusing to forgive someone who has wronged you, or refusing to repent for hurting someone, or not willing to help those in need. All these forms of division within the church we must restore before taking the bread and the cup.
Jesus laid down his life so that we can be reconciled with God. In the same way, for Paul, communion is a visceral reminder that we are to extend the same type of grace to those around us.
A few weeks ago, during communion, Providence church experienced a powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the form of reconciliation. There was a relationship conflict between a couple and a sister. A brother used to date sister A, but soon after they broke up, he started to date sister B. This created a division within the church that led to slander, gossip, anger, and tribalism. People within the church were choosing sides without knowing the full story. This conflict lasted for a year and it was a sensitive topic within the church.
During the communion service, the Holy Spirit started to convict sister A about forgiveness and blessing. She ignored it, but the speaker kept emphasizing “discerning the body of Christ”. She knew it was the Holy Spirit, but she felt awkward approaching the couple during service. During the time of examining oneself, another sister “randomly” asked sister B if she would want to reconcile with the couple. She knew she had to do it, so during communion she invited the couple to the back of the room and blessed their relationship. Afterwards, she said, “I felt a huge burden lifted from my shoulder, and I felt free.”
This act of reconciliation and forgiveness did not only begin to heal the relationship of the people involved, it also began the process of healing the whole church.
This morning, invite the Holy Spirit to bring to mind anyone whom you need forgive or from whom you need to be forgiven. It is not something you need to wait until your next communion service. It can happen now! Through this passage, we are reminded that Jesus, through His death and resurrection, reconciled us with the Father. Therefore, we must extend that same grace to our brothers and sisters.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your work of reconciliation on the cross. You knew that this was the only way that we could have our relationship with God restored. Through Matthew 26:39, we see that it was not easy, but you willingly laid down your life for us. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Like Jesus, help us do the same for our brothers and sisters. In your name I pray, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 19
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 5:21-24: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Questions to Consider
- What violates the spirit of God’s law against anger? (v. 21-22)
- What does Jesus emphasize over sacrifice? (v. 23-24)
- Is there someone that you need to reconcile with at home, work, or church? Take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to bring someone to mind.
- In the 1st century Israel, rabbis often categorized the physical act of harming someone as a violation against God’s law. However, Jesus reveals that “anyone who is angry with a brother or sister” has already violated the spirit of God’s law against anger.
- Jesus prioritizes forgiveness and reconciliation over sacrifice. This was not a small task because some Israelites would travel great distances to offer sacrifices in Jerusalem. Reconciliation required effort and time.
- Please reflect.
Romans 5:10 says, “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
In light of today’s devotion, let’s wind down our day with praise and adoration. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have been reconciled with our Father.