PARTICIPATION IN CHRIST
Lord, reveal to me any form of personal idolatry unknown to me.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 10:14–22
Idol Feasts and the Lord’s Supper
14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.
18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
New International Version (NIV)
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The jealousy of the Lord so clearly exhibited in the Old Testament surfaces here in the New Testament. Consider verse 21.
Paul returns to the issue of eating food that has been offered to idols. He has previously explained that the food itself is not spiritually contaminated in any way and so can be eaten by believers, providing it does not cause a stumbling block to others. He offers some further thoughts here; although the food carries no spiritual power in itself, sharing in the pagan ceremonies is idolatry, therefore toxic, therefore off-limits to Christians (14).
His reasoning is based on illustrations from Christian life and heritage. First, he points to the Lord’s Supper, the sharing of bread and wine that lies at the heart of Christian worship. Paul affirms that partaking of this meal draws believers into union and fellowship with one another, as well as into union with God (16,17). Similarly, when the people of Israel offered sacrifices on the altar, they too were drawn closer to the Lord, for whom the sacrifice was offered. Therefore, to eat food in the context of worship of other gods, such as at pagan temples or pagan ceremonies, qualifies as worship of such gods. Worship of anything or anyone other than the Lord is clearly set forth as idolatry, and the Corinthians are warned to avoid such practices.
For Christians today, does this indict engaging in interfaith worship, as the custom of some is? Working with followers of other religions for the good of the community is often a good thing, but Christians must draw the line at worship that is offered in any way other than through Jesus Christ to God the Father. Such worship, in Paul’s view, arouses the Lord’s jealousy (22).
If sharing in the body and blood of Christ draws us deeper into fellowship with Christ and others, how might you experience more of that the next time you receive communion?
Lord, keep me from arousing Your sense of righteous jealousy over rivals for my affections.