Taking communion in church doesn’t make you a Christian.
It doesn’t save your soul or get you into heaven. God actually warns us about approaching communion without considering what it means and why we’re doing it. We can fool ourselves into thinking, “you know what? At least we’re doing something, and something is always better than nothing.” But if you look in scripture, there are times when the church was just missing it, and it would have been better for them to do nothing at all.
Paul makes some pretty strong statements about it:
“So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despite the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!” (1 Cor 11:20-22)
“So then, whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgement on themselves.” (1 Cor 11:27-29)
What was wrong with the Lord’s Supper in Corinth? It was being observed along with a larger meal known as the Agape Feast (Jude 12). Paul said that the love feast was intended to draw believers together, but there were problems at this feast. Gluttony was an issue, but so was discrimination. The poor weren’t getting enough to eat. This contradicts the Lord’s call for unity in John 17:23.
Have you ever been skydiving? You can’t even get into the plane until you’ve received instructions. Then, before you go solo, you have to jump tandem. All that preparation is required beforehand because of the seriousness of the act. You have to understand what you’re doing and the implications of your actions. That’s what Paul was saying in 1 Cor 11. He was telling new believers that taking communion without being prepared can be life threatening. Some theologians think that taking communion ‘in an unworthy manner’ meant the Corinthians were excluding other believers from taking the sacraments with them. Others think that verses 28-29 are Paul’s warning about failing to recognise the significance of the Lord’s Supper, or taking it while living an unconfessed sin.
How then can we be prepared? Confess your sins to the Lord before receiving communion and truly consider what the bread and the cup signify. The intent is not for us to mindlessly perform a ritual, but to intentionally set aside time to remember what Jesus has done and why He did it.
The point: believers should not take God’s grace for granted or treat Jesus’ sacrificial death as trivial. However, communion shouldn’t be an obligation, but a celebration!