This week while preparing for a sermon on the Lord’s Supper I had a revelation. Hidden within the practice of celebrating the supper Jesus himself initiated is a hedge against legalism. How great is that? Lest we think this is an empty ritual (which it is not) with only one purpose (remembrance) we find yet another level (of many, many levels) in this strange, yet profound practice.
There is something inherit in human nature that draws us towards legalism. Is it our desire to be able to fend and provide for ourselves? We want to be able to look at something and say, “I did that.” Whatever it is. Regardless if it is landscaping our yard, painting a picture or earning our salvation. Is it our desire to for uniformity? We like our mailboxes to match (if you live in suburbia), our kids to be wearing the same type of shoes as everyone else, and our churches to filled with the same cookie-cutter Christian with a Jesus fish on their car. Why we fall back to legalism is a mystery to me. Maybe because it is easier and less costly. It is less costly to me if my salvation is based on me, because I can do as much or as little as I want. Not only that, but it makes me feel good about myself. I can look at the checklist of what I need to do and, low and behold, I’m doing pretty good! I deserve a little break…
Not so if I can’t earn salvation. What do you do with a gift that has been given at such great cost, and yet is so absolutely free? If I take it then what? It demands a response. It doesn’t, God doesn’t ask for response, and yet when the gift of Jesus is given and recieved with a humble heart it does. Something happens with the heart that brings forth a response of gratitude, and that response is greater than any checklist I could come up with on my own. The response is nothing less than my life. And that is scary. I think we know that deep down in our souls, and maybe that is why we like legalism. It doesn’t require my whole being.
Everytime we go to the table to partake of the bread of which Jesus said, “This is my body,” and the wine of which he said, “This is my blood,” we are posititioned face to face with the reality that we are partaking of nothing less than our salvation. This salvation did not come by any of our own doing. It was all Jesus. It is his body that was torn. It was his blood that was shed and given as a new covenant of grace and forgiveness. Accepting the elements is a reminder that we don’t do anything but recieve. Salvation in Jesus is a way of life marked by understanding the reality of recieving over and over again what we could not perform for ourselves, but that which we can only recieve.