“For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.”
I Corinthians 11:18-19, 21-22 NKJV
I love potlucks! It is said that if baptists had religious icons, our holy symbol would be a casserole dish. We get together, we eat, we fellowship, we eat, we pray, study the Scriptures, and eat some more. In meeting, we are celebrating the common bond we have in Jesus Christ.
In the early days of the church, the Lord’s supper was just that, a time to come together and eat, with a time at the end to proclaim the death of the Lord. In the church at Corinth, there were many divisions that permeated the church, and infected even the celebration of the Lord’s supper. Those with plenty, brought for themselves, and those who had little were left out. The body was fragmented.
Typically, people bring more than enough so that those who have little can share. It is the spirit of unity in the body, the heart of Jesus personified. Each person is cared for, included. Much like the early disciples in Jerusalem, just after the day of Pentecost, all gathered and worshipped together.
“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved”
Acts 2:44-47 NKJV
It is in the meeting together that the body of Christ most honors the memory of what the Lord did for us on the cross.
In the modern church, we have formalized the Lord’s supper to create a regular memorial, often separate from an actual meal. At the last supper, Jesus inaugurated it at the end of the meal. It was the final moment, when He took the cup and the bread, setting the stage for what was to come. Paul, in his admonition of the Corinthians, reminded them of why the supper matters.
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
I Corinthians 11:23-26 NKJV
When we meet, there is a necessity to self check, to examine our hearts. It is a time to check the level of our love for other believers. The Lord’s supper requires it. Jesus demonstrated His love for all of His disciples, when washed the feet of Judas before the meal. He knew that Judas had betrayed Him, yet He still loved Him, and left room for repentance.
Even in knowing what Judas was going to do, Jesus broke bread with Him.
“Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him.”
John 13:26-28 NKJV
In every church there are disputes, conflicts between believers. In many churches, the emphasis in the time before the Lord’s supper is to confess sin, to “get one’s heart prepared. In reality it should be a moment for people to deal with conflicts, to confess and forgive, that the unity of the church be strengthened.
In the coming times of great trouble, we will find ourselves like the early believers, under heavy pressure, having to rely on each other. Every aspect of what we do will come under external duress, and our very survival, and our ability to continue spreading the Gospel, will depend on the unity that we proclaim in the Lord’s supper.
May we be like the early church, leaning on each other and on the Lord, praying in power, for boldness, so much so that the very place where we dwell is shaken.
“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
Acts 4:31 NKJV