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Who should be welcomed to the Lord’s Supper? Churches have often concluded that the Table is reserved for the saints, but that conclusion often promotes more sanctimony than sanctification. Worse, it rejects people whom God loves. Churches have often “fenced” the Table, explicitly excluding those deemed unworthy. But Jesus’ own teaching and practice points us toward something much better: an open Table.
Jesus came with the provocative announcement that God is eagerly in pursuit of the spiritually lackluster (me, you, the world). His life gave flesh to that message; He loved without conditions, pouring Himself out for both friends and foes.
He has charged us to imitate both His gracious words as well as His gracious practices. The Lord’s Supper is one such gracious practice. It reminds us of the welcome of God which is rooted in Christ’s goodness, rather than being dependent on ours. Careful consideration of Jesus’ practices as well as 1 Corinthians 11 shows us that the best imitation of Christ results in an open Table where both justified sinners and unjustified sinners are all together called to taste and see the extravagant goodness of the Lord.
Mark Pertuit is lead pastor of Pathway Vineyard Church in Woodbridge, Virginia. He holds an M.Th. from the University of Oxford.