Do you enjoy partaking of Communion each week? Have you have ever gone through the Sunday morning motions of receiving Communion only to go back to your seat thinking, “Why do we this? What’s the point? Does it really benefit anyone? And why don’t I feel different when I take it?”
There is a considerable amount of confusion surrounding Communion (a.k.a., the Lord’s Supper). It is often misunderstood, and even more often under-understood. Therefore, this is the sixth post of a series of blog posts of answers to some questions that I have been asked about Communion. It is my prayerful hope that this blog post will be beneficial for you by answering nagging questions you might have, by helping you to think more clearly and deeply about this special gift from God to us which we partake of every week, by perhaps correcting some of your faulty thinking with regards to Communion and even the gospel itself, and by enriching your understanding of and appreciation for the unmatched love of God for you in Christ.
What should I be feeling during Communion? And what if I don’t feel it?
What do you feel when you receive the Lord’s Supper? Do you feel the weight of your sin being lifted from you? Do you feel your faith being renewed and strengthened? Do you feel a new or greater sense of being accepted and purified? Do you feel elation and gratefulness for all that Christ has done? Do you feel your hope welling up inside of you? Do you feel a slight sense of pride and self-exaltation in being a part of the saintly club of Christ? What do you feel? Or is your struggle that you do not really feel much at all? You want to, but you’re not sure what you should feel or how to make it happen? Do you feel guilty for not feeling something during Communion?
There are a myriad of different appropriate emotions and affections that one can feel during Communion. And sometimes we should feel several different emotions and affections in a mixed way when partaking of the Lord’s Supper. To be sure, it should not be a mere act of cold, religious duty without head or heart connection. It is not meant to be a lifeless ritual. But if you have been under the impression that either receiving Communion was pointless or that you somehow have failed in it simply when you did not feel what you thought you should, then your focus is off. The focus of our hearts and minds when partaking of the Lord’s Supper should not be on how it makes us feel. The focus should really be on what God is doing during Communion.
The Right Focus
Whether you feel joy and gratitude and relief or not, our focus should be the same. We should focus not so much on what we are feeling or what we are doing, as though we are doing something nice for God. Yes, we are repledging, as it were, our faith in Christ; our open acknowledgement that we are sinners in severe need of the gracious gift of His life, death, and resurrection on our behalf. However, since the focus of our faith is HIM and what has been promised because of what HE has done, then the ultimate focus of Communion should be not our faith, but the Object of our faith. We believe not only that Jesus lived and died and rose again, but we also believe the great and precious promises of God secured for us because He lived, died, and rose again. So, specifically, during Communion God is renewing His Covenant promise to us who partake of the bread and juice with faith in what they represent. He is saying, “I am still with you, always and only for your everlasting good, because of your faith in who Jesus is and what He did (as symbolized in this bread and juice).” So, the next time you take the Lord’s Supper, don’t worry about feeling anything magical. Don’t take comfort or joy in what you are doing. And don’t make what you feel or don’t feel the focus of it all. But do focus on what Jesus has done almost 2000 years ago, what God is doing now, and on what He has promised in His Son, as He gives us a gracious reminder and renewal of His covenant love for us in Christ.
If your focus is right, and yet you still don’t feel humble, hopeful, joyful, or grateful because of what Jesus accomplished and secured for you, then do 3 things: 1) Confess to God that you do not feel what you should feel. When you truly confess that you are not worshiping God, your confession itself becomes an act of worship! 2) Ask God to change your heart and to show you if there are any sinful things in you that are keeping you from having sincere and passionate affections for Him. There may be, but there may not be. And so, 3) Keep the focus on HIM and what HE has done, is doing, and will do. Do this, in part, by trusting in the gracious life, death, resurrection, ascension, intercession, reign, and promised return of Jesus to be the only reason why God is still utterly and completely and gladly committed to you, both now and forevermore!