The Cool Table
1 John 1:1-2:2
When I was going to junior high school I was not aware that there was a cool table in school; a place were cool young people sat to avoid sitting with those identified as not being cool enough. I was too busy trying to fit in my new country, to understand the new culture, and especially trying to get to know my father and brothers that I was meeting for the first time, to worry about any cool table. But it is not only during our teen age years that we want to be part of a cool table, but all through our life we are seeking to belong to the cool group. The right college, the best fraternity, social club, a group that will make us feel special, wanted, important, and totally cool.
Well, all of us have been invited to be part of the coolest table, the table where the action is, a table with real impact and significance. We are invited to the Lord’s Table, to be in communion with the creator of the universe and the source of life. It is the table that gives us the power to live life unafraid of life or death. This table allows us to take away the power of the past and the fear about the future. It is the table where we are always welcome. This is the table that teaches us to rejoice in the midst of sorrow, it is the table that teaches us the secret of peace and happiness. It is the original cool table.
The best part about this table is that no one can remove us from the table. In fact we are the only ones that can remove ourselves from the communion table, from the table of fellowship with God. And even those that remove themselves do so unwillingly. They remove themselves by acting on wrong information, mislead by false believes and doctrines. In the beginning part of the first letter of John, the writer addresses three ways in which we remove ourselves from God’s table and fellowship with Christ. The first way mentioned is by believing that we can relate to God without having to relate to God’s people. Too many of us find people too difficult, they easily get on our last nerves and we believe that we can have a one on one with God; just God and I, heaven. The problem is that we cannot by pass God’s people in our attempt to relate to God.
In his letter, John expresses the reason why he preached, why all the disciples preached, and why I am preaching today. All of us have one purpose, one mission. John states that: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” In other words, you cannot be in fellowship with God unless you are in fellowship with your sisters and brothers in Christ. Further on in his letter, John states that: “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) The community of faith is essential to your salvation, it is vital for your spiritual growth and development.
John believes in the radical unity of the believers. In the gospel of John Jesus himself prays to God the Father saying: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21) There are too many people who believe that they can worship God and have fellowship with God without bothering to deal with God’s people. John says that our preaching is so that we can have fellowship with one another and to have fellowship with one another is actually to have fellowship with the Father and God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
The second way that we can break fellowship with God and remove ourselves from the table is to believe that everything is grey, that we cannot be certain of anything. “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” There are some grey areas, that is why we need the blood of Christ to continue to purify us, but there are many things that are crystal clear about the gospel.
Long before the first epistle of John was written the prophet Isaiah spoke to his generation and continues to speak to ours. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:20-21) Some people are too smart for their own good, they are able to argue about everything and question every biblical mandate. They do not walk in darkness nor do they walk in the light, they see themselves as walking in the twilight. Everything for them is a grey area, that way they do not feel compel to walk in the biblical revelation.
The third way that we remove ourselves from fellowship with God and from Christ communion table is to deny our need for a savior. This is where we lose most people; no one wants to acknowledge that they are sinners. This is not a new problem, even at the time of John’s writing people were claiming that they were not sinners. John writes: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”
God had said that we are all sinners, that we are so enslaved to our sins that we cannot stop sinning even if we wanted to. That is why God became flesh, and offered himself as a sacrifice so that we could be free from our slavery to sin and death. So if you say that you have not sinned, then God, who claims to have come to free you from sin, is a liar. Most people are in denial about their sinful nature. The most dangerous area for any pastor is to preach about sin, everyone loves to hear about God’s love. We love to be told about God’s unconditional love, to be told that God loves you just the way you are. We want to believe that we do not have to change at all, God love me and that makes me ok.
The writer of John addresses that concern on the second chapter of his letter. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” This is the tension in the gospel, we are called not to sin, and at the same time God has made provisions just in case we sin. Church is a support group for sinners, we have stopped sinning but we know that we can easily fall of the wagon and slide back into a life of continuous sin.