In beer commercials the advertisers do their best to show how much their customers prefer their brand over anything else. They show some guys who empty out their refrigerators of every scrap of food to fit in the most beer possible. One commercial even has a house made out of boxes of beer. They can be funny, like the recent one where a guy names his dog in a way that’s makes it easier for its master to consume more beer. He called him “We go,” and trained the dog to fetch a beer for whoever calls the dog to them by saying “Here, We go.”
So, I find it less than completely genuine when that spit out at the end of some of those commercials “Please drink responsibly.” The word of caution does little to measure up to the lengths they’ve gone to in impressing the partyer image on the viewers’ minds.
The Apostle could have used the same slogan for his readers in a more effective manner. Unity in the church is stressed in many of his letters. In 1st Corinthians Paul stresses the point of communion and its abuse in the presence of a lack of unity:
So then, whoever eats the bread or 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 judgment on themselves. (1st Corinthians 11:28-29, NIV)
It’s as if Paul is saying “being called to in the death and resurrection of Christ is a high calling . . . so please, drink responsibly.”
Disunity in the church causes great damage to Christ, yet we get it wrong so often. In Ephesians 4:2, after spending three chapters outlining the awesome calling of being a part of the Church instituted by Jesus, Paul outlines four things that will keep our churches from disunity and ensuring that we drink responsibly:
- Humility – “Lowliness of mind” (origin was derogatory in classical Greek)
- Gentleness – waiving own rights for the common good (Courtesy, considerateness).
- Patience – can mean endurance, but more often in the NT it describes reluctance to avenge wrongs.
- Bear with – “Hold him up” (To put up with faults of others, knowing that we have our own.)
You may not be able to make others in your church follow these guidelines, but I’m sure others will follow your lead if you do them yourself. It could bring a new understanding to the way your church understands communion.