Bread – Controversies

March 27, 2009

Readings for Friday, March 27

            from the Book of Common Prayer:

            Jer. 23:1-8; Rom. 8:28-39; John 6:52-59

            Psalms 95, 102, 107:1-32



There are controversies in the church among Christians.  Have been, are, and in all likelihood will be until the Lord returns.  Who knows, maybe when the Lord returns there will be controversies about whether He threw the right people into the fiery pit or whether the saints who are ruling with Him are really doing a good job.


In today’s readings lie two great controversies.  I’ll let you guess what the first one is from this reading from Romans:


“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.  Rom. 8:28-30.


If you haven’t already guessed it, we call this controversy by various names, but for shorthand I will call it the fight over the doctrine of predestination (and the role, if any, of free will in salvation).  Wonderful source of lengthy discourse and argument, spilling over into separation of the church into defined camps.


The second controversy arises from Jesus’ own words.  Again, I’ll let you guess:


“Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him….'”  John 6:53-56


One might have a little problem figuring out this controversy, because this passage can be tied to so many.  The first was one of the first charges which were levied against Christians by the pagans, and that was that they were cannibals.  Since no Christian has ever practiced cannibalism, it was quickly apparent that the plain meaning of this quotation is not the real meaning of this saying, but if you stretch your mind you can see that an allegorical reading of this quotation collides with a literal interpretation (thus tying to another controversy about how one is to read the Bible).  A third controversy this can relate to is how we as Christians are to treat the bread and wine during the Sacrament of Communion – whether as the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (the real presence doctrine), a simple memorial to Christ’s work on the cross, or something somewhere between.  Another wonderful source of lengthy discourse and argument, spilling over into separation of the church into defined camps.


Now why go through this?  I suspect your mind has already gone to my wording about the controversies, wondering how on earth I could have used one concept or word rather than another, and building your arguments against whatever position you may think I have.  It is a wonderful exercise of reason and doctrinal purity, driving us to delightful distractions as we build intelligent arguments to show how right we are.  I can and do do it.  And so do you.


But there are two other readings today which bring home what we are really about.  The first is from Jeremiah:


“‘I [God] will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,’ declares the LORD.  Jer. 23:4


“…nor will any be missing…”  Is this not the heart of God?  Is the heart of God that we have correct doctrine, that we “win,” the argument, or that none of His sheep will be missing?  I know I work awfully hard to make sure I have correct doctrine, that I understand the Word of God, and that I am obedient to Him in many things.  But do I share His heart for His missing sheep?  What have I done today to seek out His missing sheep and to bring them into the fold, where they will “no longer be afraid or terrified.”  This questions causes all controversies to fade.


But there is more in today’s readings.  In the Psalms appointed for today, there is this:


“…For the LORD is a great God, the great King above all gods.  In His hand are the depths of the earth, … The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.  Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the flock under His care.”  Psalm 95:3-7


And again:


“But you, O LORD, sit enthroned forever, your renown endures through all generations … Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD…In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.  They will perish, but You will remain …But You remain the same, and your years will never end.”  Psalm 102: 12, 18, 25-26\


And again:


“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, His love endures forever … Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people and praise Him in the council of the elders.”  Psalm 107: 1, 32


What is to be gathered from these readings in Psalms except that God is sovereign; He is King?  What is to be gathered from these readings except that He is to be worshiped, bowed to and knelt before, exalted in all places?


Let’s see, my job is worshipping the Creator and Savior, God and King, finding His lost sheep, and bringing them into sanctuary where they are safe.  I suspect if I were really doing these things, my time to worry about the “right” position in these various controversies would be greatly diminished.  Besides, if I were sovereign and knew the solution to all controversies, why would I need God and why would I need faith in Him?  Hmm…seems like Satan asked my forefather and foremother that question a long time ago and no good came out it.  Maybe I need to focus on my job.


Could I make a perhaps unwelcome suggestion — Maybe you do too.



Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture.  Help us Lord to come to you and to bring others to you.  Help us know that you are God and we are not.  Help us Lord to recognize Your timing and to accept it.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be both willing and obedient servants.  It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank you and praise you!  Amen.





2 Responses to “Bread – Controversies”

  1. matt Says:

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  2. Kathy Kremer Says:

    Our controversies may be a sign that we are the true children of Abraham. It is said that if you have two Jews in a room, there will be three opinions. (grin) Or it may well be that it is part of our fallen nature that we have opinions which we will hold until the end even if they aren’t all that critical. I don’t remember who was the philosopher who said it, but it’s a saying I like very much: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” The trick is to decide which category the belief fits into.

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