Sunday, 16 November 2014
Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 1 Corinthians 11:20
This verse leads to all kinds of theories and speculations about the taking of the Lord’s Supper. It also leads to ideas which really miss the point. An example of this is that the term “supper” indicates an evening meal, which is when Christ shared the elements of the commemoration. Therefore, some have claimed that the evening is the proper time to participate in the memorial. The point of coming together for it, however, isn’t one of “time of day” but rather in remembrance of the work of the Lord.
To insist on commemorating the ordinance in the evening adds in a level of legalism which is unnecessary. Paul’s point in this discussion, like the previous issue concerning head coverings, is that of propriety of conduct. In verse 18, he noted the divisions which he had been informed of. Then in verse 19 he gave the seemingly unrelated note that “there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.” This isn’t unrelated, but the explanation won’t be fully realized until later in the discussion. “Who are approved” are those who are acting properly. If they are “recognized among you” then the opposite would be true, and those who weren’t approved would be known for their improper actions.
But for now, Paul begins with “therefore” to show that he is building upon what he said. It is tied to the “factions” he mentioned along with the actions of the people within the factions. Because of these things, he notes that “when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” Instead of what they should be demonstrating, a united group who are there to remember the work of the Lord and to commemorate it, there is disharmony. This will be seen in the coming verses.
Life application: The ultimate aim of church meetings isn’t to satisfy oneself. Nor should there be divisions over matters in order for some to attempt to be exalted in the eyes of others. Rather, the aim of gatherings it to exalt and glorify the Lord. Anytime a gathering occurs that isn’t directed toward that goal, something else will inevitably fill the void and it will lead to disharmony, not unity.
Lord, as I go to church to worship You, help me to remember that I’m going to church to worship You! I don’t want to lose sight of the very thing which calls us together as a congregation. And so in praise, in prayer, in listening to the preacher, and in any other thing we do, keep me remembering that it is all about You. I know that with this in my heart, You will be well-pleased. Amen.