Baptists are not sacramental people. Some could argue that we are actually anti-sacramental, or sans-sacramental. We reject a doctrine that seeks to mutate the doctrine of God’s grace flowing through Christ “like a river glorious” into some kind of chunky ‘dose of grace’ concept that says we are better off for having chewed on a wafer or swallowed a thimble-full of juice. And yet, we observe Communion, and strive to keep the emphasis, not on the elements, but on the Person. The sappy-sacramentalists in several camps will have a field day with all of this. Stupid Baptists.
But maybe we have all missed the point. Jesus has not merely injected heavenly meaning into a very few material elements. He has transformed the meaning of life, in all of life. John 6 is the material that is poking at me, and Jesus was abusing the brains of people who are trying to work with the old definitions. Did he really say “Eat my flesh; Drink my blood”? No, Jesus, don’t say such a thing. It’s beyond the pale of reason and good taste.
Our shared case in missing the point may be somewhat like what has happened to our experience of the Spirit. We are critical of the exaggerations of the charismatics, so much so that we are almost afraid of any kind of spiritual experience or expression. We are so afraid of any form of transubstantiation, we spend our time in Communion saying more what it doesn’t mean than what it does. But what if we blow the ends off the coffin, and apply Jesus to all of life?
Can you imagine a believer so taken with Christ that he is drawn to think of Christ every single time he eats or drinks? Breakfast: I can’t afford to start my day without ... Jesus. Bedtime snack: Just a little more of Jesus. I can’t live without my coffee, and much more profoundly and deeply, without Jesus. Let’s dive into baptism. Can you imagine a believer so taken with Christ that every time he washes his hands, every day when he takes a shower, he is deeply aware of the cleansing that we have received and of which we stand in need by Jesus’ blood and God’s forgiveness?
Let me call this the Super-Sacramental life. It stands in contrast to the sans-sacramentalism of the Baptists, and the sappy-sacramental approach of those who find the eucharist in every reference to bread, blood or water in the Bible. Jesus has not injected himself into all of life - He is our LIfe in such a way that we see him everywhere, in all that we do, in every arena, in the smallest things and the grandest things.
We observe gathered Communion/Lord’s Table regularly. There is a distinctive character to it. Here we eat and drink in fellowship with God’s people and in fellowship with our Lord. It anticipates the heavenly fellowship that we will one day enjoy, face to face and unhindered by distance and death. Frankly, we need gathered communion because we fail to see Jesus everywhere else. But, truthfully, our Communion cannot be limited to these occasions, because we are invited by Jesus to live Super-Sacramental lives, feeding on him and drinking him in, enjoying that flow of grace, every moment of every single day.