And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
—Luke 22:19, NIV
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
—1 Corinthians 11:23b-25, NIV
Let me clarify my title: communion is not a prerequisite for salvation. However, I do think that after you are converted, you have to obey Jesus’ commandments.
Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me.” (I Corinthians 11:24) I don’t see how we can do without remembering or remember without doing and consider ourselves as obedient. Who are we to judge which half of a commandment will count as the whole?
Isn’t it dangerous to second-guess God? Isn’t it foolhardy to correct His commandments? Are we smarter than He is, so that we are able to determine what He meant and to ignore what He said?
The problem here is in trying to become a judge of a commandment, trying to discern which part is necessary and which part is not. What we need is not interpreters, but obedient servants. If you truly are a slave of Christ, you will obey His commandments so far as you can and you will leave the determination of the significance and the essential parts to Him. He is the judge of your obedience, not you. If for some reason you or any of His other servants is prevented from obedience for some reason, Jesus is the judge of that. If you consider Him trustworthy and merciful, you don’t have to trouble your pretty little head over things like this.
It’s more important to do this in remembrance of Him than it is to figure out what it all means or to extemporize a shortcut. Jesus said, “obey my commandments.” He did not say, “figure out my doctrine,” or “understand my theology,” or “comprehend the true nature of the bread and wine.” He did not say, “Some of my commandments are red herrings. Whoever among you is clever enough to figure out what is truly essential shall win the prize!” This much is clear beyond any doubt: whatever He meant by it, whatever exceptions He will make in His mercy, He told us to do this simple thing. Why should I balk at this little thing? Of all the commandments that Jesus gave, this is surely one of the easiest ones. If I can’t be obedient in picky little things like taking communion, then how likely am I to be obedient in hard things like loving my neighbor and resisting temptation? If I am not faithful in trivial things, then why would He entrust me with great things?
Communion is not a test of your intellect, your theology, your cleverness, or your common sense, or good judgment. It is a test of your obedience: He said “do this.” Are you going to do it or not? Does God have to reveal all the mysteries of the universe to you before you will trust His wisdom in asking you to do this? Suppose you tell a child to do something, what would your attitude be toward a child that withheld obedience until you made a full accounting of yourself and of your reasons? Can’t you pass such a simple test? Don’t you think He will reward your obedience? Whoever is not faithful in little things is not likely to be faithful in weightier things, and is certainly not likely to be entrusted with much that is valuable.
This is why the most spiritual people you know are not theologians, but simple people who know how to obey; for you can see that the wise stumble on the threshold of the Kingdom of God, while the simple walk right in.
Perhaps we should learn from the clever, but imitate the simple.