1 Corinthians 11:17-34
In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: 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.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
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. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
And when I come I will give further directions.
This is a familiar passage to most of us, because portions of it are frequently quoted when we participate in the Lord's Supper or Communion in our churches. Some of this we have a hard time relating to, because the way we practice this today does not involve a full meal as it did for them. I am sure some churches have a full meal with the Lord's Supper, but most now-days do not. However, I think the basic principles here can be applied. We should not partake in the Lord's Supper as a snack, because we forgot to eat breakfast or something. It's ultimate purpose is not for food. It is to proclaim the Lord's death. It is, as this passage proclaims, a remembrance. We do, also need to examine ourselves before taking the Lord's Supper. Make sure that you are right with the Lord first. I have at times in my life, let the cup and the plate pass and have not taken from it, because I knew me and God had some issues between us. Of course, the issue was mine, not God's, but there is no shame in that. If you know that you have something between you and your God don't participate. Deal with what you need to deal with between you and God before you do that. This is why we don't allow our children to partake in the Lord's Supper until they have received Christ, either. Obviously if they do not yet have a personal relationship with Christ than they are not yet right with God and shouldn't partake. My husband once pointed out to me that as far as them eating and drinking judgment on themselves, they are already under judgment because they don't know Christ. That is true, but I wonder if maybe God then puts that judgment on us, as their parents when we offer them the bread and the cup knowing that they do not yet have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Just something to think about. That's not the gospel truth, but I think God does hold us responsible for many of the things we allow our children to do, so why wouldn't He hold us responsible for this as well.
In closing, I sure would have loved to have been privy to the “further directions” Paul gave when he came to them, wouldn't you? I wonder what he might have said?
“Dear Father, please help me to always examine myself before I partake in the Lord's Supper. Help me to stay in a right relationship with You, so that I can always enjoy Your fellowship. It's a very painful thing to be out of fellowship with You. I know that feeling all too well and never want to experience it again. In Jesus' Name. Amen.”
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