(The Confessional Lutherans for Christ’s Commission is one of the many confessional groups that regularly post on this website. Like BJS they seek to equip laymen to know and support Confessional Lutheranism. CLCC posts are archived on the Regular Columns page of this website.)
Love for your neighbor — What does this really mean?
I’ve been thinking about what “love” really means. What does it mean as it pertains to “closed communion” and why this practice is love for our neighbor? It doesn’t look like love to most people. Rather, it looks like we think we are superior or we don’t think they are even Christian. Many people today think Holy Communion is just between them and God, so we are unloving when we get in their way.
“Holy Communion” tells a person that it is not just between them and God. If you remember the 1960’s, you remember that people were living together in communes. When they did that they shared everything. The word “communion” means this is not something just between a person and God. It is about sharing the same confession of faith.
1 Corinthians 11:18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you.
We are to care about our neighbors, and not want any harm to come to them. They possibly could receive the Lord’s Supper to their judgment. See 1 Corinthians 11:27-30. Is it showing love to them to invite them or even allow them to come?
27 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.
It bothers me when I think about this. I want everyone to have the Lord’s Supper as a blessing, not a curse. I want people to be taught first, so they also confess what the church believes before they commune. We can’t deny there are divisions among fellow Christians. There are divisions regarding baptism of infants, women’s ordination, open communion practices, to name just a few. Also whether it is the true body and blood of our Lord given for us to eat and drink. I want to commune at an altar where I share faith with the others communing. Why do people want to commune at an altar where they confess differently?
This has also led me to think about another neighbor we have. What about our pastors? How we should love and honor them! These men have taken a vow to be faithful to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions, as well as being faithful to walking together in the Missouri Synod. The LCMS has a policy of being faithful to the Scriptures and that means we are all to follow the LCMS “closed” communion policies. I know in our society today that is very difficult, but when has Christianity claimed to be easy? The Lord’s Supper is a precious gift and should be treated as such. When we bring our visiting relative or friend to the altar, knowing they have left the LCMS and decided to go to a different church, and so are possibly confessing a different faith, are we showing love to our pastor? Or are we putting him on the spot, making him possibly feed poison instead of a blessing to our guest? Are we pressuring him to break vows he made to both God and man? Are we getting mad at him if he refuses to give the body and blood of Christ to our guest? Does that show love to him? I think it is time we think about what we are asking him to do and how guilty we might be making him feel.
1 Corinthians 4:1 [The Ministry of Apostles] This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
I pray for a time when more lay people will begin to support their pastors by helping them to be faithful stewards of the mysteries given them to care for. God has graciously sent them to us, to serve us, feed us, and guide us. It’s not an easy task. Let’s show them love by helping them to be faithful.
Confessional Lutherans for Christ’s Commission (CLCC)
December 10, 2012