Read 1 Corinthians 11
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 11:29 “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
The early Church used to meet for regular pot-luck dinners. They were called “agape” meals — “love-feasts”. Ideally they were supposed to include everyone and highlight no distinction between the well-to-do and the poorer believers. But here is what was happening:
The upper-income believers were getting to the dinners before the lower-income workers. Rather than wait for their poorer brethren, these early arrivers were going ahead with the food and drink — not only getting the best on the “menu”, but depleting the supply for the latecomers. Some were drinking too much and becoming drunk. (v.21).
The effect, of course, was the humiliation of the poorer believers (v.22), causing socioeconomic division — discrimination of the basest kind. And, all this was happening in the name of a “love-feast”, meant to glorify and remember Jesus! Paul was angry, and rightly so.
As Paul was about to teach (chapters 12, 13, 14), the “body of Christ” was made up of many members, all with differing, yet complimentary gifts. There was to be interdependence in the body — just as the hand and the eye need each other, so, too, the various members of Christ’s body need each other.
When one member refuses to acknowledge another, he is cutting himself off from that person’s gift. And suppose that, upper-income member needs healing and the one possessing the gift of healing is a lower-income member? What happens? The rich member gets sicker and dies because he refused to “discern” or “recognize” the gift Christ had given for his healing — “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep” (v. 30). The “Lord’s Supper” is a time to recognize our interdependence. You nee my gift and I need yours.