Celebrate the Gospel [1 Corinthians 11]
28But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.29For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly 30For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.31But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.32But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.33So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.34If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.
In this passage Paul addresses yet another problem among this group of believers. They have taken the beautiful reminder of the gospel - the Lord's supper - and have turned it into a selfish feast. What a travesty. They had distorted a very precious observance that Jesus left His body of believers. One that should cause them to worship together in unity, in love, in remembering what a sacrifice it was for their Savior to give His life for them but instead it is causing huge divisions among them.
It is interesting that in my own life I have misunderstood this passage and my misunderstanding has produced the same result as it did for the Corinthian church - a distortion of this beautiful reminder of the gospel. In the past I have thought that this passage was teaching that I should examine myself for any sin that might be in my life before I took the Lord's supper. In so doing, I would spend that time in retrospective repentance and fear, not a celebration of remembering together with my sisters and brothers what a great forgiveness we have through Christ's death and resurrection.
Now as I understand this passage in the context I see that it is dealing with a very specific problem - the misuse of the Lord's table that causes the body of Christ to be torn apart. God cares deeply about His people and desires them to be connected together as the bride of Christ. Thankfully, He will discipline His children "so we will not be condemned along with the world."
Remember the Lord's death until He comes and be filled with gratitude for what that means in your life:
- not only forgiveness but "no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus."
- now "the Spirit's law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Romans 8:1-2, Holman CSB)
May you, by the Spirit, live in that freedom today and really celebrate in unity with your Christian family the next time you observe the Lord's supper.