Do You Despise the Church of God?
Scheduled for April 6
the early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper, it seems it was much more
physically nourishing than the symbolic method we use today. I suspect that
the Passover feast materials were used, and so it was that people were fed
there in a physical as well as a spiritual sense. Imagine Paul’s outrage,
then, when this most sacred of feasts was abused by such flagrant bad manners.
From the accusations, one might conclude that the wealthy were the first in
line. Those first in line pigged out, leaving nothing for those who came
later. If you were first to the wine, you got drunk. No wonder Paul was
however, the retort Paul throws at them: “...do you despise the church of
God...?” The terror of this behavior is not simply bad manners. Bad manners
are usually a form of lack of respect. In this case, the lack was directed at
the church itself. The church, however, is not the building -- indeed, in
those days, they had no buildings but met in homes. The church is composed of
its members. In other words, the rich (in this instance) were despising the
poor, and in despising them, despised the church. Could such a thing happen
with us today?
regret to admit it could. I’m not speaking about accusations like “old
so-and-so is an elder only because he contributes so much” (you see, the poor
can despise the rich too; they call it envy), but rather this. When
you take communion, do you look around and think, “Look at old so-and-so, that
hypocrite! How he can dare to take communion without fear of the roof falling
in on him....” You see the point, I hope. Whether it’s outright condemnation
or the more subtle “I’ll have to remember to pray for so-and-so’s
repentance...” we tend to look around and see the sins and failings of others,
rather than examining ourselves.
no mistake about it: this is judging others (as in “judge not, that ye be not
judged.”) Just because it comes under the pious cloak of self-examination
makes it no less judgment. Examining myself does not mean comparing myself to
others. It means comparing myself to what God wants me to be. When I judge
others at the Lord’s Table, I’m saying they’re not good enough to partake --
and I’m despising the church of God.
command is simple: Let a man examine himself -- and no one else.