Friday, February 15, 2019

The Lord’s Supper – What Is The Proper Attire?

            While baptism is the initiatory rite, the Lord’s Supper is the continuing rite of the visible church. The Lord’s Supper was established by Christ for the church to practice as a commemoration of the Lord’s death (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20).

            Who participates in the Lord’s Supper? It is generally agreed that one has to be a practicing believer in order to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Anything less is a sin (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). The Lord’s Supper signifies, at least in part, a spiritual relationship between the believer and the Lord. Thus a personal relationship with God is a prerequisite for participation in the Lord’s Supper.

            The believer should also be mature enough to be able to discern the meaning of participating in the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:29). Hence, it is advisable that children do not participate in the Lord’s Supper.

            What is the proper attire to participate in the Lord’s Supper? Before we consider this subject, let us recollect the most important prerequisite to participate in the Lord’s Supper. The believer’s active relationship with God is the most important prerequisite.

            While we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we are to approach the Lord ’s Supper in holy awe (our motives should be thoroughly examined), “Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-28, THE MSG).

            On the other hand, if we give no thought to our participation in the Lord’s Supper, then we run the risk of facing serious consequences, “If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave.” (1 Corinthians 11: 29-30, THE MSG).

            In other words, the most important prerequisite to participate in the Lord’s Supper is spiritual in nature, and not physical. The physical aspects such as our attire, posture etc. are secondary, at most, or of no significance at all. 

            So a rich man who is impeccably clothed and a beggar with his ragged attire can both participate in the Lord’s Supper as long as their motives are appropriate. Clothes do not matter while participating in the Lord’s Supper.

            The motivating factor to blog on this topic was my friend’s question to me recently. He asked if it was appropriate to wear shoes while participating in the Holy Communion / The Lord’s Supper.

            In certain churches, the Holy Communion will be served at the altar/stage. The believers walk to the altar/stage to partake in the Holy Communion.

            In other large churches, the believers remain in their seats while participating in the Holy Communion. The elements (bread & grape juice/wine) are brought to their seats. In this situation, the believers may be wearing their shoes while participating in the Lord’s Supper from their seats. Significantly, these churches do not impose any restrictions on attire.

            The disposition of our heart is more important than our shoes or clothes. By being silent on the type of clothes or other paraphernalia that believers ought to wear or not to, the Bible offers greater importance to the hearts of the believers than their attire. The dirt in our hearts has far fetching spiritual ramifications than the dirt in our shoes.

            Does the Bible say whether you and I should not wear shoes while participating in the Lord’s Supper? No, the Bible does not!

            God commanded Moses to remove his sandals because he was standing on the holy ground (Exodus 3:5 cf. Joshua 5:15). Should this be a point of reference for believers to partake in the Lord’s Supper without their shoes?

            I do not think so!

            If you are diligent enough to not wear shoes, but if your heart is not in the right place while you partake in the Lord’s Supper, then you are sinning against the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:27-31). Not wearing shoes does not provide any immunity from sinning.

            God commanded Moses to remove his sandals because God was locally manifesting HIMSELF in the place where Moses was standing. Thus that place was holy ground. 

            Today, there is no localized manifestation of God’s presence (at least not in our churches!). So it really does not matter whether we wear our shoes inside the church or while partaking in the Lord’s Supper.

            But it does matter where our heart is while we partake in the Lord’s Supper.

            Significantly, let us not be legalistic while practicing Christianity. Let not law rule our faith in Christ and fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters. May the grace of our dear Lord Jesus Christ rule our hearts and minds as we think and decide on practicing our faith. 

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