Weekend Message Q&A

Here are the questions I received from this weekend's message.

Q – I really appreciated your sermon on this topic this week! As a former Catholic, I often have felt we EFree folks forget how significant communion should be in our faith journey, even if we are just "remembering" and it isn't for salvation purposes (only Jesus saves, not something we do). How would you suggest we take this a step further to our time OUTSIDE of these church walls? Often times, I still think of communion as something I do at church. Clearly, in Jesus' day, it wasn't a church function only.....it was with your family, at your home, and together as well as corporate worship times. It is also more than symbolic ideals, as you shared, so it should be something more long-lasting in my thoughts and my faith journey. It shouldn't become a ritual I do every week, or once per month only at Church. How could we go further with this do you think?

A – I think you may have answered the question. The early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper as part of community meals. I know of some churches that celebrate it in their small groups. A church I visited a few weeks ago only celebrated it at a monthly meal of their church community until recently. I think we (that includes me) need to deepen our experience of this meal. And I think it has as much to do with our experience of anticipating Christ’s return and eagerly anticipating his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. But it also has to do with the depth of our community life as a church. I know I have a long way to do on this.

Q – Awesome message! When talking about one’s often twisted history of communion in the church, were you calling out [any particular kind of] church? I grew up for many years with the strict rules, regulations, and “being worthy enough” to receive communion. Please clarify. I certainly have lived through it. 

A – I wasn’t calling out any particular church denomination. In fact, I had churches like the ones in our own particular tradition in mind. Damaging religiosity is everywhere, in every church tradition.

Q – I just wanted to make a slight note to you about a part of your message today that I found very confusing. It was towards the later part of the message when you were talking about the verse in 1 Cor about not taking communion in an "unworthy manner".

I felt like you were very passionate about it but I had a hard time following what you were trying to say. [My husband] made the comment that might be assuming people understood the traditional or "high church" interpretation of that passage. I felt like you laid out very well why you disagreed with that interpretation, but I didn't understand what you were necessarily disagreeing with….

Maybe I wasn't following along as well as I could have been, but it would have been very helpful if you could have given a quick "This is what churches have mistakenly taught about this passage" and "This is what I believe scripture actually saying" then laid out the reasons why.

A – I’m guessing you were not alone. I could have been much clearer. I should have focused in more on that point. I tried to take on way too much with too little time.

My basic point is that churches too often put unnecessary barriers to people at Communion. And I’m not even talking about requiring membership in their church. I'm talking about the idea I’ve heard throughout my life that if you have any “sin in your life” or if you have relational conflict with anyone you should pass on Communion. I can’t find that teaching in the Bible, and my concern is that when people hear things like this they begin to put up even more personal barriers to taking Communion. And then, when they take it, I’m afraid they’ve become arrogant enough to believe they no longer have “sin in their life” or they are relationally whole. Everyone who takes Communion is unworthy apart from Christ, and we can’t add anything to what Christ has done.

What complicates it is that people misinterpret the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 by ignoring the context of those words (i.e., the problem he clearly describes and he is addressing). The problem was that the rich people were going ahead and eating before the poorer folks arrived. The poorer folks would go hungry. And some of the rich folks would even drink too much. So all of Paul’s words have to do with this particular relational injustice and sin, not whether or not the Corinthians had unconfessed sin or relational conflicts in their lives.

Q – Why didn’t Pharaoh die during the 10th plague? Wouldn’t he have been the firstborn?

A – I can only assume he was not the firstborn. Maybe he had an older brother who had died.

Weekend Message Q&A

Here is the question I received based from the weekend message.

Q – You talked about people not being honest when they twist the words if the Bible. Is this why some people are suspicious of Christians due to negative Christians who spread hate (ie westboro church)? Do we have an inner sense of truth even if we don't believe and that's why we don't believe the twisted messages? Why do people believe those hateful views?

A – I think it’s important for people to realize, first, that the Westboro church is basically a two or three dozen people all related to each other. As far as I can tell they are a group akin to the KKK and skinhead groups that use the Bible for their own purposes. They are not people of the Word—shaped by it or concerned one bit to really understand it. And I do believe they know they are twisting and using the Bible for their own purposes. They are haters, first and foremost. And, yes, their use of the Bible adds to the impression that you can make the Bible say anything you want it to say, so why bother with it.

I don’t understand it. I’m not sure anybody does. They are the stuff genocidal groups throughout history are made of. Except, in this case, this group doesn’t seem to have the evil genius of the ones who start movements.

As for people citing groups like this to discredit Christianity: I also believe that deep down that people who do this are well aware that this is unfair. Every philosophical, religious and political movement has people like this related to it. The person citing Westboro or other evil so-called Christian groups knows this. In fact, they have some people like this in their own families. They would not want to be discredited in everything they do because of their crazy uncle or evil great grandfather, but they discredit others by taking this kind of cheap shot. Just another way of suppressing the truth.

But they’re not alone in doing this. We, as believers, do the same thing in our daily life when we want to discredit others’ perspectives. I do this. It’s partly why I can see through it! And it’s only one more reason we as believers should be the humblest people on earth. We know better. We have the Bible’s witness to us that we are prone to suppress the truth, yet we still do it. We don’t need to win arguments or defame or look good because we have everything we need in Christ. Yet we use anger (aggressive and passive aggressive), cheap shots and bad logic to make our points in personal conflicts all the time. To win. We need God’s grace daily. We need to be people who offer God’s grace to people who hate us or try to discredit us. We can do it from the position of strength and acceptance we have in Christ.

Q – How do you share the message without sounding judgmental? I've been told that calling people (including myself) sinners is judging. Any insights would be helpful.

A – Aside from what I already said above, some people will think what they want to think no matter what we say or do. And when someone accuses us of being judgmental for calling ourselves and others sinners, we can thank them for proving our point—they just judged us (which, apparently, they think is a sin) and we can admit they are right about us (we are indeed judgmental).