Sunday, February 9, 2014

Corinth's Communion (part 26)

What then was the injustice inside this church?  Has Paul mentioned it to this point?  Of course he has.  He has already written “For when it is time to eat, everyone proceeds with his own supper.  One is hungry and another becomes drunk… are you trying to show contempt for the church of God by shaming those who have nothing?” (1 Corinthians 11:21,22b)  This may seem trivial at first glance, but when placed in perspective, the fact that there is an element of injustice at work can be easily perceived, and it is being perpetrated by the members themselves.  It should most certainly be the case that inside the gathered body of Christ, and especially as they were coming together for a meal that carried a considerable amount of theological weight, that all share equally in the meal. 

If the church itself was unwilling or unable to feed those inside the body, and if the church itself was unwilling or unable to be sure that those that were counted as brothers and sisters of the kingdom of the Creator God did not go hungry, then how could it possibly find itself in a position to do the same thing for the world?  Some members of the gathered congregation eating and drinking and doing so to their fill while others went hungry, with this hunger and thirst occurring within plain sight of those that ate and drank to their fill, who were themselves in a position to exercise a very small amount of the self-sacrificial love that took Christ to the cross by sharing so as to insure that nobody went hungry, was nothing short of an injustice that has no place inside the church. 

Indeed, Paul was right to bring up the issue of shame.  If the church was not the example that it needed to be in modeling out a different kind of living, and if it did not put that different mode of living on display at the meal table in recognition of the demands of its Lord, where it could be easily recognized by those both inside and outside of the church (no divisions, no separations, no stratifications, no inequality), then how was that church going to inspire the viewing world to change its mode of living and to recognize its true Lord?  If those that were supposed to be representing the end-time kingdom of the Creator were more than happy to eat and drink while their very own brothers and sisters in the covenant went hungry, then they were certainly not operating in love. 

Now, this is not to say that there is anything wrong with eating and drinking, but it is to say that those that lay claim to a confession of Jesus as their Lord, who are ambassadors for the existing kingdom of heaven while serving in anticipation of its consummation, are called to a position of conscientious love.  Believes are very much within their rights to enjoy that with which they have been blessed (in food and drink and in all other areas), but this enjoyment should be done in a way that is tempered by an understanding that there are those, perhaps through no fault of their own, who go without much of that which is basic to life. 

Perhaps the position here called for is to offer praises to the Creator God for His bountiful provisions, while also offering a lament for the evil that is active in this world (in so many ways) and which is working against the proliferation of the provision of the God that shows forth His rule through the Lord Jesus and through His church (His body) that is active in and for the world as an extension of the Creator’s care.  Of course, it is not enough to praise, and it is not enough to lament.  Both suggest a call to dutiful action by the church, for the world, in humble and loving service to its Lord and its God.

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