1 Corinthians 11:29-30: He who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.
It would be nice if the enemies of God were all outside the church, and we often sentimentally think that this is the case. But that has never been true. There was conflict among the sons of Jacob, the original Israel; Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and others rebelled against Moses; Solomon’s kingdom was divided and remained divided for centuries, and during that time the kings of Israel frequently persecuted the righteous remnant. This continues right into the NT: The Judaizers are Christians, and Jesus and Paul both warn that false teachers, false prophets, and wolves will come among the sheep.
Believers confront a complicated and dangerous situation. Jesus said we will be hated by the world; but the world is in the church, and some church members hate Jesus and hate faithful disciples of Jesus. All in the church are sons of God, sons of Abraham; but there are "false sons in the pale." Judas, remember, was a disciple of Jesus.
How are we to deal with this? One thing that the imprecatory Psalms clearly teach us is that God is the One who sorts through these things. Though the church is called to exercise discipline and to cut off flagrant sinners from the fellowship of the church, ultimately the Lord is the one who separates wheat and tares, sheep and goats, true and false sons. The imprecatory Psalms leave this sorting where in belongs: In the Lord's hands, not in ours.
This table is one of the Lord’s means for doing that. This table is a table of blessing, not a table of judgment. It is a place of communion, not excommunion. But the Lord does use this table and this meal to judge, to sift, to separate, to purge. And this means that we can cheerfully come to this table with one another, even when we may have suspicions about another's spiritual state, because we know that we don't have to sort things out. God will.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Sunday, September 10, 2006 at 07:42 AM
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