Somewhat Stream-of-Consciousness Thoughts about Why It’s Wrong to Be Sorrowful at the Lord’s Table

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1. When we confess our sins at the beginning of the service, the pastor or elder declares that we are forgiven. That means our sin has been removed as far as the east is from the west. It doesn’t exist anymore. Therefore there’s nothing left for us to be sorrowful about. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we cast doubt on the efficacy of His forgiveness.

2. What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. My tears can add nothing to the cleansing process. He didn’t miss any spots that I still need to scrub away on my own. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we are trying to accomplish our own salvation by our work of mourning.

3. Self-flagellation accomplishes nothing. By His stripes we are healed, not by ours. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we deny the efficacy of His vicarious suffering.

4. The Lord’s Supper should draw our attention to those with whom we commune—the Lord Jesus and His body, the church. Being sorrowful over our own sin means our attention is consumed with ourselves. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we are being self-centered at the worst possible moment.

5. Godly sorrow produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we are engaging in worldly sorrow that leads to death.

6. One day a little boy refused to obey his father, threw a tantrum, and talked back in a rather egregious manner. The father took his son aside to apply some tender loving care to his nether region. A few swats, a few tears, a few words of apology and forgiveness, and a few hugs and kisses brought about a general change of attitude, and they abode in peace together for the rest of the afternoon. But that evening at the dinner table, the little boy wept and wailed about how sorry he was for misbehaving. Pretty soon his brothers and sisters were weeping and wailing, as well, over their past transgressions, and the whole family had a rather miserable meal. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we are denying the Father’s forgiveness, and we are tempting our brothers and sisters to do likewise.

7. (Same scenario, take 2) One day a little boy refused to obey his father, threw a tantrum, and talked back in a rather egregious manner. The father took his son aside to apply some tender loving care to his nether regions. A few swats, a few tears, a few words of apology and forgiveness, and a few hugs and kisses brought about a general change of attitude, and they abode in peace together for the rest of the afternoon. But that evening at the dinner table, the father recounted the boy’s misdoings and went on at length about how disappointed and ashamed he was of his son. While he was at it, he reminded all his other kids about their past transgressions, and the whole family had a rather miserable meal. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we are slanderously saying that the Father’s forgiveness is not sincere, neither for ourselves nor for our brothers and sisters.

8. One day, a wife was quarrelsome and disrespectful to her husband. Later, she was sorry for what she’d done. She apologized and he freely and gladly forgave her. They made up according to the time-honored custom of lovers everywhere. But as he kissed and caressed her, rather than joyfully receiving and returning his affection, she started weeping and kept saying over and over again, “I’m so sorry. I was such a witch today. I can’t believe the way I behaved. You must be so upset with me” and so on. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we are faithlessly rejecting His love for us.

9. (Same scenario, take 2) One day, a wife was quarrelsome and disrespectful to her husband. Later, she was sorry for what she’d done. She apologized and he said that he freely and gladly forgave her. They made up according to the time-honored custom of lovers everywhere. But his kisses and caresses were accompanied by reminders of what a witch she’d been that day, how badly she’d behaved, and how he upset he still was about the things she’d said and done. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we are slanderously saying He hasn’t truly given us His forgiveness and love.

10. Some people need persistent reminders that their sins have been forgiven, that Jesus loves them, that they are clean. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we are throwing an anvil rather than a life preserver to weak-faithed people who are already drowning under a burden of shame.

11. The gospel is like well-functioning toilet. Forgiveness flushes away the contents, and they are gone for good. Why would we want to remember them? Why would we want the pipes to back up so we can continue to gaze upon and smell our filth? Why would we want to keep using (and never emptying) a chamber pot when we’ve got perfectly good indoor plumbing? If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we are clinging to our sin and showing that we still love it more than Jesus.

12. Jesus has borne our sins on the cross. The devil wants us to believe that we still bear them ourselves. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we are making it out to be the table of demons.

13. He preparest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies. He doesn’t do so in order to hand me over to them to be tormented with shame and guilt. And He doesn’t do so in order to perpetuate His enmity with me. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we make the good Shepherd out to be a wicked trickster of a wolf.

14. The Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of the Lamb’s wedding feast in the new heavens, where every tear is wiped away. If we are sorrowful at the Lord’s Table, we are bringing hell into heaven.

11 responses »

  1. I agree with what you’ve posted, yet I have shed tears in gratitude at the Lord’s table as I reflect on the Lord’s humility, obedience and love as he experienced the greatest agony I will never now need to.

  2. Four reasons (perhaps) to be sad:

    1) We prohibit our children from participating; when we do this, we negate their baptisms, teach them (in essence) that Jesus is not for them and require more from them than the Lord does.

    2) We use Welch’s instead of God’s fermented libation; when we do this it’s only a matter of time b4 it’s milk and cookies….

    3) We use paltry wafers instead a good, meaty loaf; when we do this we (basically) portray Jesus as a Woody Allen-type man rather than the Giant Killer he is.

    4) We only celebrate once-and-again; when we do this we proclaim that doing other things (singing the same inept songs, listening to the same cadence in preaching, anon) weekly makes more sense and is better for us than what Jesus called us to in the celebration.

  3. Travis, I agree that those are reasons to be sad, just as all our sins are reasons to be sad, but they don’t negate the reasons to rejoice at the table. If that’s what we are faced with in the situation where God has providentially placed us, then we should confess those corporate sins along with our individual sins at the beginning of the service and trust that God is graciously disposed to the body despite its failings at those points. And if things are bad enough that we find ourselves in a congregation that doesn’t even have a corporate confession, there’s nothing stopping us from confessing on our own behalf and on their behalf all by our lonesomes. For my part, I am extraordinarily grateful to be in a congregation where these things are not a problem (apart from offering grape juice along with the wine).

  4. Pingback: Sorry at the Supper? | mattbian.co

  5. Ha, I fully agree that leaving the butter outta the recipe gives us reason to be sad at the table indeed! Otherwise, barring the meaty bread is good and butterful, being plenty joyous for the sacrifice already made and the sins fully forgiven is surely in order!!

  6. Well, at least I remembered to slather some on top after it baked. And nobody complained…the little “sparrows” gobbled up the leftovers as usual!

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