Last week I preached from Mark 6:1-6, where we see Jesus is held in contempt by his own kindred in Nazareth. The title of that sermon was “Familiarity Breeds Contempt.” One of the main themes in the message was that the people Jesus grew up around thought they knew him so well that they failed to see him for who he really was. They had a low view of him, therefore their hearts were full of unbelief and they were offended at his teaching.
When we get so used to something that it begins to lose value – at least in our eyes. A precious, diamond ring is often no less valuable several years down the road, diamonds are diamonds and gold is gold, but the woman wearing may indeed get to the point that she does not even notice it is on her finger. We tend to devalue the things that we are familiar with. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Maybe, just maybe, that woman with the diamond ring does catch its glimmer on a regular basis and she is reminded of the faithfulness and care of her loving husband that it represents. You would have to kill to get that ring off of her finger. It is a sacred sign of a precious union and love that is relentless through the good and the bad.
One of the reasons that many churches do not practice communion each week is the fear that familiarity will breed contempt for the blood of Christ. I admit that this may very well happen, but it doesn’t have to and it shouldn’t stop the church from having the Lord’s Supper when they gather as the local body. Paul says in I Corinthians 11:26 that “As long as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Since, therefore, I make it may aim to proclaim the death of the Lord in word each week, why would I not also proclaim it in sacrament?
There are a number of things that should be happening when the word is preached in the assembly of the brethren each week; things which appropriately culminate in the visible “proclamation” of the death of Christ. In the preaching of the Scriptures we encounter the holy character of God, this holy character reveals to Christians our calling as those “predestined to be conformed into the image of Christ”[i], which means that we are coming face to face with our sin each week in light of who God is and what God demands.
If we are coming face to face each week with the holiness of God, the height of our calling, and the depth of our sin, we should be longing for God ordained means of being reminded of our only hope – the death of Christ. The blood of Christ, spilled, and the body of Christ, broken, secures not only my hope of pardon, but my hope of perseverance which is dependent on God’s covenant faithfulness. After a week in a fallen sinful world, we should long to gather and partake of the bread and cup, symbols of the blood and broken body which testify that we are forgiven and secure. The demand for perfect holiness has been met, both in life and death, and our future glorification is now certain in the new covenant.
We come to the table of the Lord together each week from a world full of things fighting for the preeminent place in our affections. At the table we look ahead, facing a coming week where other “suitors” will flirt and vie for our love. And like a beautiful wedding band, we look at and partake of the sacred signs and we remember the love, strength, and faithfulness of our husband – which is Christ. Each week at the table of the Lord we solemnly abandon other lovers and proclaim that Jesus Christ is more precious to us than all the fleeting treasures and pleasures of this world.
In short: if we faithfully preach the Gospel – the holiness of God, the depth of our sin, and the preciousness of the Savior – then communion never gets old. It never becomes mere ritual. Familiarity does not breed contempt. I know that even I have such a small view of my sin, but yet I can’t help but feel my need to see with fresh eyes of faith, through what Christ has ordained, what is my only hope as I face another week and eternity beyond.
[i] Romans 8:29