We might have read in the newspapers that five years from now, dementia may afflict some 53,000 older Singaporeans. Dementia damages nerve cells in the brain, affecting thinking and other cognitive processes. It is a myth that dementia only affects the elderly, usually over the age of 65 but the fact remains that younger people do get memory and other cognitive difficulties, such as problems with language, problem-solving or finding their way around.
But everyone of us regardless of race, language or religion or even age are inflicted with this common yet deadly spiritual disease – if I may call ‘spiritual dementia’ or dementia of the ‘spiritual kind’– FORGETFULNESS.
We observed the Lord’s Supper (or commonly called Holy Communion) as a part of our worship to remember Him and until He comes again. In Jer 18:15 the Lord summarizes Judah’s apostate condition with this simple charge, “My people have forgotten Me.” That succinct assessment is repeatedly made in the first 18 chapters of Jeremiah. What an indictment it is! When those to whom the Lord has come forget Him they are doing something that goes against nature, is uncharacteristic of pagans with their gods, and which is spiritually suicidal.
The Holy Communion – we commune with God and with other Christians – is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and continuing Lordship over the church, until He returns and together we will feast with Him at His heavenly banquet. The meaning can be summed up in the acclamation, “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again!”
Forgetfulness is a common, yet deadly spiritual disease. That is why God’s Word gives so much emphasis to calling us to remember. Much of the burden of Moses’ message to the Israelites in Deuteronomy is warning them not to forget the Lord and exhorting them to remember Him and His salvation. David penned two psalms “to bring to remembrance” (Ps 38 and Ps 70).
This same emphasis is found in the New Testament as well. In the midst of their sufferings the Hebrew Christians had to be reminded that those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines (Heb 12:5). Peter exhorts his readers to “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” Then he explains that “he who lacks these things is short-sighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins” (2 Pet 1:5-9).
Paul explained to the Roman church, “I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you….” (Rom 15:15). He sent Timothy to Corinth in order to “remind” them of his ways in Christ (1 Cor 4:17). Peter plainly declared his purpose in writing to his fellow believers: “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you… (2 Pet 1:12-13). In fact, he self-consciously wrote his letters in order to encourage his readers to remember truth long after he had died: “Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease” (2 Pet 1:15 and 2 Pet 3:1).
Paul admonishes both Timothy and Titus to do just that (2 Tim 2:14, Tit 3:1). He also encourages his young pastor friend to “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel” (2 Tim 2:8). Forget this and Gospel ministry becomes impossible.
All of these reminders are indictments on our tendency to forget which brings me back to the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Isn’t it amazing that we need to be reminded of the sacrificial death of our Savior? What a commentary on the power of remaining sin that resides within believers! What a testimony to the subtle strategies of the devil and the alluring deceptions of the world! It seems inconceivable, doesn’t it, that people who have been rescued for the wrath of God and granted eternal salvation would ever forget the One who, at such great cost, brought it about. Yet, that is sadly our tendency. We forget. That’s why we sin.
• the wickedness of our sin and what it cost our Savior to redeem us from it. That’s why we complain and grumble.
• the greatness of incomparable worth of all that is ours in Jesus Christ. That’s why we hesitate to forgive.
• that God in Christ has forgiven us. That’s why we get depressed, lose hope, become joyless and settle into spiritual mediocrity.
• Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, has conquered every one of our enemies and given us a sure future in heaven.
How gracious and kind and condescending of Christ to give us the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper so that by it we will be dramatically called to remember Him on a regular basis! An obedient Christian (who submits to the command to “Do this”) cannot long remain a forgetful Christian (because it is done in remembrance of Christ).
Forgetfulness is a great enemy to a joyful, faithful Christian life. We must not underestimate our need for encouragement to remember Christ. And we must not neglect the very means that He Himself has given to us to do so.
We all do it, probably every day. It has a huge impact on the way we view ourselves and the way we respond to others. It’s one of the main reasons we experience so much conflict in our relationships. The scary thing is: we barely recognize that we’re doing it.
What is this thing we all tend to do that causes so much harm? We forget the generosity of God.
In the busyness and self-centeredness of our lives, we sadly forget how much our lives have been blessed by and radically redirected by the generosity of God. The fact that he blesses us when we deserve nothing (except for wrath and punishment) fades from our memories like a song whose lyrics we once knew but now cannot recall.
Every morning, God’s generosity greets us in at least a dozen ways, but we barely recognize it as we frenetically prepare for our day. When we lay our exhausted heads down at the end of the day, we often fail to look back on the many gifts that dripped from God’s hands into our little lives.
We don’t often take time to sit and meditate on what our lives would have been like if the generosity of the Redeemer had not been written into our personal stories. Sadly, we all tend to be way too forgetful, and there are few things more dangerous in the Christian life than forgetfulness.
Forgetfulness is dangerous, because it shapes the way you think about yourself and others. When you remember God’s generosity, you also remember that you simply did nothing whatsoever to earn his blessing; you are humble, thankful, and tender.
But when you forget God’s generosity,
• you proudly tell yourself that what you have is what you have achieved.
• you take credit for what only his blessings could produce.
• you name yourself as righteous and deserving, and you live an entitled and demanding life.
When you forget God’s generosity and think you are deserving, you find it very easy to withhold generosity from others. Proudly, you think that you are getting what you deserve and that they are, too. Your proud heart is not tender, so it’s not easily moved by the sorry plight of others. You forget that you are more like than unlike your needy brother or sister, failing to acknowledge that neither of you stands before God as deserving.
Will you remember to remember the generosity of God? Remembrance produces upward worship, inward humility, and outward generosity. Give thanks, be humble, and be generous, because the blessings you receive from the Lord are not what you deserve.
So let us remember never to forget to remember who God is and what He has done and will be doing in our lives! May the Lord help us.