At most “Christian” churches a small segment of a specific service, usually weekly or monthly, is devoted to “Communion”.  This concept of “taking communion” is drawn primarily from the gospel of Luke:

For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, this is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise, also the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

The other gospels make note of this “last supper communion”, but John focuses mostly on the betrayals of Judas and Simon Peter, rather than the eating and drinking and only Luke specifically mentions the words of Jesus instructing us to continue this practice.

In most churches the practice of “taking communion” involves a piece of “bread” a sip of “wine” then move on to more pressing matters. In many, if not most churches, the bread is a piece of matzo cracker, or perhaps a bland wafer purchased from a Christian supply house; the wine typically grape juice and not actual wine. This is actually something that would have been impossible in Jesus’ day since grape juice begins to ferment soon after picking. Since alcohol is frowned upon in many segments of Christianity, the use of grape juice has become commonplace instead. Grape juice requires pasteurization to stop the fermentation process, and this process was developed by Thomas B Welch in 1869, so the use of grape juice, rather than wine, is a very modern development.

The original last supper was first a cup of wine, which the disciples were told they must share but Jesus did not drink, then the bread which all present ate, including Jesus. There was then another cup of wine which was, per accounts, intended to represent the new covenant. This second cup was taken individually and not shared. This, to me, represents we can have an individual relationship with God through the new covenant, even though we also share a common spiritual lineage through the Spirit.

The accounts in each of the gospels are similar, but each writer has a slightly different focus and perspective. That is pretty normal since we all view the world through different eyes. From these combined four gospel versions the religious practice of “taking communion” was introduced to the world and is now practiced in most, if not all, Christian churches.

In truth, this meal, these two cups and the bread, were not intended as a somber religious observance. In actuality this was to be a “Passover feast” meant to celebrate the salvation of the firstborn of Israel when the death angel passed over killing the firstborn of Egypt. This led to the Hebrew people’s escape from captivity and Jesus, and his disciples, were at the time following Jewish tradition by celebrating this feast.

This meal, the Passover meal, was intended to be eaten in a reclined position, per Jewish tradition, rather than seated. When the gospels speak of the disciple Jesus loved leaning against him, this would have actually been a quite common practice of the day. It is doubtful there was a table and multiple chairs as depicted in Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”. Instead, the group was likely lounging on the floor.

The churches we attended when I was a small child usually had a stackable silver tray set with hole cutouts for tiny grape juice cups and was made specifically for the taking of communion. There was also a second flat tray for the unleavened cracker pieces or wafers. These were passed around the auditorium by ushers. When everyone had their cup or “bread”, and for just a moment, everyone would reverently consume the cracker or solemnly drink their ration of grape juice. It was soon over and we moved on to the next item on the agenda; likely a song.

When I was a teen, and my father formed the ABC in our living room, communion became less formalized and was expanded to be a complete meal. Unleavened bread was baked in the Old Testament manner, rather than being a boxed matzo cracker or purchased wafer, and eventually the grape juice too was replaced with actual wine. At first the bread was placed on the table with the potluck meal, but soon after was separated out into a more religious observance. The meal was more in line with the true “Last Supper” experience in the gospels, and practice of the early church. As far as I know, this format continues to this day in the ABC. Not quite a celebration, but not quite a momentary religious observance with stainless steel trays adorned with a cross and lid on a linen covered table with flowers. But true communion is not actually about the food and the wine. These are merely tangible symbols of the remembrance of something that is, for the most part, completely virtual and intangible.

The ABC teaches a doctrine one must enter into the “Kingdom of God” through an intricate seven step salvation practice. This seven-step process can only be proven by use of multiple study books and a grid.  One of the songs this church sings is “The Kingdom of God is not meat nor drink, but righteousness, peace and joy…” Hard to argue with that statement as this song is drawn directly from a letter written to the Romans. However, these words followed a direct admonishment to not be judgmental but instead make peace and edify each other.

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

This is something sincerely absent in the ABC. They are quite judgmental, there is not a peace that exists among their members and this is a stain on any feast they celebrate. The first letter to Peter references a similar situation when it speaks of false teachers and likens them to Balaam with his ass. Balaam was a man who placed too much burden on his ass then wished it dead. When the ass refused to take the abuse any longer God gave the ass the ability to speak and it said essentially; “Have I ever wanted you dead? Even though it is you who have burdened me all these years and not I who has burdened you?”  Balaam lacked love and tolerance.

But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you,

This is just a small excerpt from the second letter to Peter, what has been divided out as the second chapter, but it is worth the time to read the text before and after this because there are many false teachers who promise liberty with their words then seek to bring about bondage. This is opposite the ministry of Jesus.  

It is interesting to note Jesus, at the last supper, first handed them a cup of wine which they were to share. He did not single out Judas, the man who would soon cause his death. He did not single out Simon Peter, the man who would soon deny him. He did not elevate any person in the room to be greater than another, even though there was one in the room Jesus dearly loved above all the others and who was, at that moment, leaning against his breast in a show of deep affection. There was a pure equality in that room, regardless of character, position or even rightness, as illustrated by even Judas not being left out.  

In Matthew Jesus, speaking on the mountain, says, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  So, if the kingdom is what we should be seeking, and not food and drink, this begs the question about communion; is it really about the food and drink, the bread, the cup of wine, or is it more about celebrating a unity of Spirit?  We can determine the answer to that question from Jesus’ parting words, directly after the supper was over:

Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

We know also from Jesus previous words, as he traveled about, this “new commandment” was coupled with an equal twin commandment to “love our neighbor as ourselves”.

An individual I am acquainted with in Australia recently wrote about why the Christian church is failing mankind and he paralleled some of the falsehoods that have taken hold in churches, rather than the truths which should be present. In his writing, he adequately juxtaposed some of the reasons he felt were creating this failure. I have grossly abbreviated his list below in a chart and will address these truths and falsehoods one by one.















 Community vs. Tribalism

True communion is not just a solemn prayer, then a piece of bread, then a solemn prayer, then a sip of wine. Those mean nothing if we have hatred in our heart toward our brother, or even our neighbor, who is that person very unlike ourselves--or even one we would consider heathen. Anything that is not love, is hate. There is no middle ground.

We each individually, but not collectively, live in the Kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is personal, within us and we, like a community, are “individuals”. The only thing that truly unites this community of individuals is a common intangible Spirit.

It is no coincidence the word “community” shares a likeness to “communion”. Truly “communing” together is accepting each other’s diversity of thought, excusing each other’s differences, and loving each other, despite our many flaws. It is living not as a commune, but instead as a community. Considering a piece of cracker or bread, and a sip of juice or wine, to be “communion” is missing the entire point of Jesus message about remembrance. It’s not about the food and drink, it’s about the celebration. It’s about remembering why Jesus came and died. Our repentance and faith, His propitiation.

The “community” connection we should have with each other is intangible, and without affiliation of any kind. “Tribalism”, on the other hand, requires and even demands a devotion to a specific group or organization with strings attached that bind. In another post I will address the similarities, and differences, between the wise woman and the foolish woman of Proverbs 9 but for the purpose of this post I will abbreviate and say only that the foolish woman seeks to capture souls with empty promises of secrets, while the wise woman invites in, feeds and quenches thirst, then sends that traveler on their way, asking nothing in return. Tribalism, the foolish woman, tries to create a strong feeling of identity, and loyalty, to a false tangible tribe, organization or group, rather than to the intangible, and true, Kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is universal. Am I of Paul, Apollos, the ABC…

The ABC, as well as many other similar groups, demand one identifies with their tribe alone and no others. Leave that tribe, question that tribe, appear to be disloyal to that tribe or identify with another perceived tribe, and you are now considered “lost”, “in the wilderness”, “out of God’s will” or one of many other demeaning catch phrases that seek to condemn.  But the Lord knows those who are his. The true “body” consists of many members globally, most of whom we will never meet or know.

Can the eye say to the hand, etc.  I will never in my life meet my liver, or kidneys, or pancreas. If I ever do try to meet these organs with my eyes, I will likely kill my entire being in the process. These things are unseemly and meant to remain hidden and never seen. Yet they are still a necessary part of my body.

When a body begins to “tribalize”, cells glom together inappropriately and then begin feeding off the nutrients meant for other parts of the body. This is called cancer and brings about great destruction of souls. The earthly body of Christ has within it many such cancerous growths, tribes like the ABC that have walled themselves off from the rest of the true body in a frivolous effort to be shielded from “the ways of the world” or “Mystery Babylon”. (Note: Mystery Babylon is not a place, church, group, movement or any such like. Mystery Babylon is hidden away in the heart of man when we harbor an attitude of bondage once again.  The Hebrew people were not captured into bondage in Babylon, they were drawn in by its perceived beauty then became mired in complacency. Even those who feel they do not worship in Mystery Babylon can still have hidden Babylon in their heart.)

Cancer survives in the physical body by creating walls around itself so the antibodies to this intrusion cannot enter. These cancers in the body are allowed to remain, for now--like the wheat and tares parable--but they will one day be excised and burned. Those who are of the Lord are all members of the “body of Christ” universal, and we were never intended to become a tribe of “believers”.  To do so is arrogant and prideful and to do so we are stating we have the knowledge of who is His. We do not have this knowledge. We can look for fruit but must also remember every tree has its seasons and we may be observing a fruitless tree when it is in its off season.

Acceptance vs. Adherence

Much of Christianity today teaches a doctrine of “accepting Jesus into your heart” through a quick “sinners’ prayer” format of salvation. Unfortunately, this is just a modern contrivance formulated in the era of mass “revival” events and not even close to the instructions Jesus left for us. The origins of the “sinners’ prayer” is best illustrated by a man named Thomas Ross in a dissertation he entitled  "The Sinner's Prayer: A Historical and Theological Analysis. (Click to read the entire dissertation). The dissertation is long but here is one small sample that mostly encapsulates the whole:

First, the Sinner's Prayer does not come to us from Scripture. Rather, it developed out of need for reproducible methods to assist in efficient evangelism. But efficiency entails more than time. Efficiency also entails effectiveness. In that regard, the Sinner's Prayer, rather than leading to efficiency in evangelism may be leading to a deficiency in disciples. As it is often used in evangelism, the gospel is not adequately explained or understood. The prayer, rather than Christ, seems to take center stage. In such cases, the Sinner's Prayer represents no more than an impotent magical formula and no less than a new sacrament for evangelism.

If we truly “accept” Jesus, there is no reference to accepting Jesus into our hearts, we accept his example and message of love and tolerance. If one seeks out these two things, love and tolerance, they will have then fulfilled the entire law and, if one fulfills the entire law perfectly, they will then find salvation. That is the promise given.

You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off! For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

                                                              From the letter to the Galatians

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

                                                                 From the letter to the Romans

The law was imperfect in that it was impossible for any person to fulfill the whole law, yet righteousness demanded an adherence to the entire law. The only hope then was a constant stream of sacrificed animals to ask refuge from our failings. This is why we now have a new covenant through Jesus and is the basis of the “good news”. When we fulfill this two-sided coin of the only law remaining; love God and love our neighbor; we then fulfill the entire law and find rightness with God. If this is how we find rightness with God, and since God is not a hypocrite, this is also how God finds rightness with us; love and tolerance.

Faith and love, held together by the hope of salvation, are inseparable. There is no greater thing that will “save” a person than faith by grace. By faith, Noah, by faith Abraham, by faith Rahab… The ABC and other ultra-fundamentalist churches teach a doctrine of strict “adherence” to a specific set of guidelines to achieve salvation and believe it is through them alone. In the ABC this focuses around a specific water baptism requiring a precise incantation of words, witnesses to assure not even a nose tip pierces the surface of the water and the words are spoken correctly, proof the baptizer has a perfect baptismal lineage (an impossibility) and can only be performed by a male gendered person. They believe only they can perform this adequately and accept no other baptism not performed by them. Any newcomer must be baptized again by them.

Noah was not saved by water; he was saved by faith. God was able to give him grace and guide him to a new life through the water but the water was secondary to his faith. It was his faith alone that saved him, not the water. Noah’s action of faith to walk through a door, feed a few animals, take a long boring cruise then wait for the earth to be renewed again expressed his utter faith in the invisible. We know the cruise was boring because Noah became anxious to get off that ark and sent birds out a little too early looking for a bit of dry land. Sailor’s lament I suppose. It is important to note all those who did not enter the ark were baptized in these waters but the baptism did not save them because they lacked the necessary faith.

Faith vs. Certainty

But what is faith?  Faith is the only tangible thing we can hold onto to understand an intangible God. But that faith is still deficient since God is invisible, not easy to perceive, and so it requires also some trust.

In the seventies there were many bumper stickers on cars that read “I Found It”.  The connotation being this person had found God. Really? First, I don’t recall God being lost and second, can we ever truly find God? God is an infinite presence in an infinite universe and we are finite so God is completely beyond our understanding. No one has ever seen God at any time because God is invisible. We can only be seekers of God, but never finders. If one claims they are “certain” in their faith, they truly do not have faith because faith is not certain, faith is tenuous, not knowing, not understanding, yet still willing to seek, still willing to trust, knowing we will never actually find God completely. True faith in the intangible, not knowing, not understanding, is uncomfortable, but it is the only faith there truly is.

Bildad the Shuhite, in the book of Job, had at least this part right when he said, for we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow… None of us has enough days on this earth to ever find God in His entirety, though many try. If what you call faith is not knowledgeably uncomfortable, you truly do not have faith as there is no certainty in true faith. We see through darkened glass.

Unity vs. Uniformity

My body fits together perfectly. Well, I guess I should actually say mostly. Each half of my body is different from the other and it is the same with everyone else on the planet.  On my left foot the last three toes to the left are much shorter than those to the right on my right foot, but I don’t walk in circles because my brain compensates for this slight discrepancy. It is likely if you begin comparing your own body halves to each other you will find similar differences in your own anatomy.  Photoshop allows us to use a photo of a single face, split it in two digitally, delete one half, flip the other half to be a mirror image then marry these two identical halves together to form a whole face again.  The result can be a bit creepy because you will not look to be the same person. The real you is not perfectly symmetrical. 

Some persons are born as mosaics, or as chimera, and may have fully different features on each half of their face. Blond hair on one side, brunette on the other, green eye right, blue eye left, etc. Most women are slightly mosaic and, it is assumed, most persons born, male or female, have some small amount of mosaic in their makeup. This is due to genetic interferences that happen during growth in the womb and is harmless unless the mosaicism overwhelms the normal cells. The full explanation of this is long and convoluted, but the bottom line is this. No body is ever meant to be a cookie cutter image and every single body is intended to be diverse from the other. Even identical twins are not truly identical and, as they age, they progress differently. Yet, despite all of these differences, and imperfections, our body still fits together perfectly and is fully human.  

The “body of Christ” is the same. It is a multitude of parts joined together as a whole but no two pieces of the body are ever alike or are uniform or symmetrical. When a single cell begins to replicate itself over and over in exactly the same image that is cancerous growth, not positive growth.  This is uniformity, not unity, and this is born out of pursuit of tribalism and is not representative of true community.

Love vs. Fear

Perfect love casts out all fear. Period. There should be no contention over this but there are some who feel, like the Israelites trembling before Mount Sinai, we must tremble before God, or before those who have elected themselves our religious superiors. The love of God is so severe toward us we can boldly come before the throne of grace, at any time, at any moment, and find peace without trembling.  We need not be afraid of God for God is our father.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

If the environment where you find fellowship enables fear in you, rather than comfort, it is best to see where your feet stand and run. If you are living in perfect love, there will be no fear because there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus and if we have no condemnation from God, we should accept no condemnation from any man.

Authenticity vs. Hypocrisy

We are all hypocrites in one way or another, but the hypocrite I refer to is the one who acts like a Pharisee.  The one who puts up a façade of perfection but inwardly are stained.

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore, you will receive greater condemnation. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

It is part of our human condition to dislike the things we see around us that remind us of our own flaws so we adamantly reject them in others. We cannot escape that flaw; we can only recognize it and compensate for it. But the Pharisees were holding the “laity” to account for things they did not even do themselves. We must remember, this is prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection so the “Law of Moses” was still in effect. But the Pharisees had taken the Law of Moses, added even more layers of difficulty, then forced these difficulties on others. But then they exempted themselves from this excess burden. This is the hypocrisy of which we must guard ourselves.

The Pharisees had these charges against them:

  •  They teach but do not do. 
  •  They bind heavy burdens on others, but not themselves.
  • They are great actors doing false works so they can be seen of others as greater than they really are.
  •  They continuously add to their scriptural knowledge and like to be seen for their pretense of piety
  •  They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
  •  They are vipers waiting to spring.
  •  They vaunt themselves and give themselves titles.
  •  They cover over the path of righteousness, remove peace and kill joy.
  •  They turn their back on poverty.
  •  They love long pretentious prayers.
  •  They seek to add members to their following just so they can teach them to be hypocritical Pharisees as well.

Authenticity is simplicity and humility. When the disciples asked how to pray, Jesus said a short, almost pedantic, prayer and told them to follow the same format when they prayed. “Our father which art in heaven…”

Authenticity is humble. Jesus knew he was to become the Son of God, yet he hobnobbed daily with the lowest of low, the “sinner”, the publican, the destitute, not the Pharisee, for which he only showed contempt.

Authenticity is having faith in God, even if one knows little. We are not heard for our much speaking. We are not edified by our much learning. The ten simple commandments became the law of Moses because ten just didn’t really nail it down. It was unclear when one wanted to get into the weeds of it all. Under Jesus these ten became just two, love and tolerance. This is the “Royal Law”, this is the entire commandment, and there is nothing greater.