Let’s look at the passage usually read when taking the Lord’s Supper to answer this question:
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 11:27-30
The key passage here – and probably the hardest to understand – is “recognizing the body of the Lord”. If we don’t recognize the body of the Lord we get weak and sick! Serious consequences.
What is it talking about – “recognizing the body of the Lord”? I believe it is saying we will be weak, sick, and progressing towards death to the degree we do not have communion with the Lord’s body. Okay, what is the Lord’s body? 1 Corinthians 12:27 says Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. This is what we commonly call Christians! Jesus is the head and we are the body.
We cannot understand what the Lord is doing today without understanding what He is doing in His people. We cannot be a part of what He is doing today without being rightly joined to His people. If we do not have a growing relationship with a growing group of believers in a church under the headship of Jesus Christ, we are going to end up in the category of sick, weak and maybe even premature death.
1 John 1:7 says But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, … The word translated fellowship is the Greek word koinonia. This means much more than a handshake with each other on Sunday morning. This represents a joining together so that the blood or life of Christ flows from one member (person) to the other. Recognizing the body of the Lord is realizing I have to be joined to other believers and supplying my part of the work, blood, gifts, etc. If I don’t do this I am saying the body of the Lord (His people) is not important.
The benefits of being a part of a church body – recognizing the Body of the Lord – is health and life! This does not mean attending! It means more than this. It means having koinonia with other people in it! It means finding my place in the body and helping the blood to flow!