A Hill Worth Dying On
Earlier this year, 11 Iranians Christians were arrested and charged with “activities against the order of the country.” Specifically, they were charge with drinking wine… communion wine during a Christian worship service. These Christ-followers knew that they were risking their lives and freedom to remember Jesus in this act of worship. They were released in May, thanks in large part to public outcry from the West. These persecuted Christians believed that communing around the Lord’s table with other believers and with the Lord Himself was important—important enough to risk all.
Contrast their solemn faith with some of the disagreements that believers have had over the observance of communion through the years.
Presence: Is the body and blood of Jesus literally present? Is it spiritually present? Is bread and wine only a visual aid to focus our thoughts or does something spiritually happen in communion?
President: Who is qualified to administer communion. Must one be ordained? Must one be a bishop or can a deacon preside over a communion service. Can anyone preside? Can a woman preside?
Participants: Who can eat of the Lord’s Table? Must one be a member of the local body? Can visitors partake? What about the children of members?
Providers: Must deacons distribute communion after it has been blessed? Can only baptized believers “pass the plates” or can the “pre-baptized” participate? Can women serve at the Lord’s table?
- Presentation: Must there be only one cup? Must that cup contain fermented wine? Can the cup contain fermented wine? Must unleavened bread be used?
This list of communion issues is by no means exhaustive, but it is indeed exhausting. The kinds of things we have invented over which to feud and fuss is amazing. This picking of nits over communion split the Reformation itself, and it has split many churches through the centuries, some of which I have personal knowledge. But those 11 Iranian Christians never would have even considered those kinds of issues. When you are risking your life for something, you make sure that it counts. If you are going to take a bullet (literally or figuratively), you need to make sure it’s worth it. You must choose carefully the hill on which you’re willing to die.
Jesus died on the hill of Calvary. There is no issue worth taking a bullet for that is not directly connected to what Jesus did there. May God forgive us for all the blood we have spilled on hills that were not worth dying on.