The first church service that I can remember attending seemed strange to me. I wasn’t sure why people were standing up or sitting down. They sang aloud, collected money, and then some guy in a robe stood up and yelled at us. At least, that was how it seemed to me.
The rules Paul gave for Corinthian worship may seem just as strange to us today. For example, when people wear hats today, it is usually for warmth or style. But in the Corinthian context of worship, head coverings were a symbol of both cultural and spiritual values (vv. 7–12). Although scholars do not all agree on the exact meaning of the symbolism, the principle is clear. The church should not mirror the values of a pagan culture.
Paul also provided guidelines for the Lord’s Supper observance, which the Corinthians defiled both by their divisions and their selfishness. Like many other churches in the New Testament era, the Corinthians observed the Lord’s Supper by eating a meal together. But instead of being sensitive to those who had little and sharing, some treated it as if it were their own private supper (v. 21). Some ate and drank to excess while others went home hungry. Think of the worst behavior you have seen at a church potluck, and you may have some idea of the problem.
Not only was their behavior selfish, but it failed to honor the sacred nature of the meal. The Lord’s Supper is meant to be a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice. It is also a reminder that the church is a body made up of many members. We are used to focusing our attention on Christ when the church observes the Lord’s Supper. But are we also mindful of the coming together of the body of Christ?
>> The next time you observe the Lord’s Supper, look to Christ. But also take note of your fellow believers and remember that Christ’s sacrifice has made you members of one another.
Lord, we may not get drunk at communion like the Corinthians did, but please show us ways we disregard our fellow believers’ needs and profane what is holy. Convict us and transform us through repentance.