‘Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3’ is the refrain often heard when testing sound levels on a microphone. Testing is a common feature of everyday life these days: when doing electrical jobs in a house, it’s wise to test a live current with a neon screwdriver, for example, to check that it’s working before relying on it; a car has to have an MOT after three years to ensure it’s still roadworthy; portable electrical appliances have to be tested annually. Our society doesn’t just test things either: children are constantly tested at school; schools are regularly tested by OFSTED; most jobs require ongoing professional development.
In the Christian life, there is a test we have to do regularly, for 1 Cor 11:28 reminds us to examine ourselves thoroughly before we take Communion. The word means to test, to scrutinise, to prove and we have to reflect, consider, look back and evaluate how we are doing in the faith on a regular basis (see also 2 Cor 13:5).
The opportunity to take the emblems of bread and wine gives us pause. We are to consider, confess and consume. What we have done wrong or failed to do must be confessed to God, but 1 John 1:9 assures us of forgiveness. We are not to test ourselves simply to avoid taking Communion, but to confess and then consume the symbols God has given us which remind us that our salvation is not dependent on our efforts, but wholly available through Christ’s sacrifice.