1Co 11:20-22 “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.”
Historically, it is believed that the early church met together and had an actual meal before the taking of the bread and wine in what we today refer to as Communion or the Lord’s Supper. Paul’s admonishment to the church at Corinth would seem to indicate this was the practice there. The brethren came together for a meal and the fellowship that goes with it prior to taking the wine and unleavened bread in token of the Lord’s blood and body.
However, Paul rebuked them for the manner in which they had come to conduct themselves. His injunction was not so much against the act of meeting together in a common place and sharing a meal as it was against their wanton behavior at such a time. While they claimed to be gathering to share common meal where everyone (rich or poor) could partake in true fellowship, it had been turned into an excuse for excess by the wealthy to the embarrassment of the poor.
Scholars indicate that the meal prior to keeping the Lord’s Supper was originally to be something like a potluck. Everyone contributed to the meal as they could, it was all spread out together, and everyone ate of it. Apparently, some in Corinth had lost sight of preferring their brethren before themselves. Some were showing up with their meal, sitting down and eating their fill, drinking wine to excess, and leaving nothing for those who could afford little to contribute to the meal.
Paul’s admonition is direct and to the point. It is better for us to remain in our own houses than to make a spectacle before men of the house of worship. When we fail to approach our worship with the proper attitude of love and sincerity, we open the door for our faith to be ridiculed. We are, in effect, saying by our behavior that the church and the saints of God really don’t mean much to us. As long as we are being filled and satisfied; as long as we are merry and light-hearted, everyone else can get along as best they can.
When we have such a self-centered attitude, Paul says we are not eating the Lord’s Supper even if we partake of wine and unleavened bread. Our heart is not where it ought to be. We are not discerning the Lord’s body in the gathering of His believing saints, and therefore, we eat and drink unworthily.
It does not matter at all how fine the cloth is that covers the communion table or how expensive the containers that hold the wine and the bread. The vintage of the wine does not matter if we do not see Him. It is a farce by which God is not honored when we do not have the respect of the church and the love of our brethren before us.
This is not just true of the actual time that we set apart for taking what we call the Lord’s Supper. To truly commune with our Lord and Savior, we must live every day in a manner that honors Him. We must behave ourselves every day in a way that causes all who see us to speak well of the church. It is our daily responsibility to love our brothers and sisters and prefer them ahead of ourselves. If we fail in this, we cannot say that we meet to eat the Lord’s Supper.
May God touch our hearts that we may indeed live in communion with Him and His saints every day or our lives!