Monday, December 20, 2021

Christ, the True Center of All Worship

Today I was reading Howard Marshall's Some Considerations Concerning the Lord's Supper Today, which led me to jot down a few miscellaneous thoughts about the significance of communion. But first let me quote to you from Marshall:

In line with what appears to have been the practice of the early church the Lord's Supper should be celebrated frequently in the church, and there is good reason for doing so on each Lord's Day. 

It's time we ask ourselves why evangelical worship, for the most part, centers on the preacher. The early Christians were celebrating weekly the resurrection of Jesus Christ and feasting in anticipation of his return (Acts 20:7). Marshall says:

The Lord's Supper in the New Testament is a meal. The appropriate setting for the sacrament is a table, and the appropriate posture in our western culture is sitting. To describe the central piece of furniture as an altar is completely unjustified in terms of the New Testament understanding of the meal. 

(Some of us could replace "altar" with "pulpit.") 

My understanding of the New Testament suggests that the future of the church lies, at least partly, in the recovery of the Lord's Supper as central rather than peripheral. True worship can't be reduced to a stage, a lecture hall, or a psychiatrist's couch. Our gatherings have the word "man-centered" stamped all over them. The center of all true worship is Christ. 

(For more, see Seven Marks of a New Testament Church. Chapter 5, on the Lord's Supper, is titled "Christ-Centered Gatherings." And, in case you think I'm minimizing the importance of sound doctrine or faithful exposition of the word, see chapter 3, "Apostolic Teaching.")