Summary: God holds Christians responsible to ensure that they are prepared to worship before they approach His Table. We prepare through sharing our lives with our fellow believers.
WHATEVER WERE YOU THINKING?
“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.”
“Whatever was he thinking?” That is the question on the minds of many people who read of the fall of Eliot Spitzer the disgraced former governor of New York. After deliberately destroying so many icons of Wall Street and so vigorously attacking prostitution in New York, to have himself spent over $80,000 on prostitutes in a ten month period leaves anyone perusing the news breathless.
Hard on the heels of the Spitzer revelation was the account detailing the downfall of Kwame Kilpatrick, the Mayor of Detroit, Michigan. He is now charged with perjury—lying under oath—concerning a romantic relationship carried on with a former Chief of Staff. Residents of this great city may well wonder, “What was he thinking?”
Now, in this previous week comes a report that the husband of United States Senator Debbie Stabenow was caught in a police raid cracking down on prostitution in the Detroit area. He has been a prominent liberal radio broadcaster. When I read this report, I could only ask, “What was he thinking?”
While news accounts of prominent individuals who act stupidly seize our attention, even more egregious actions are perpetuated among the professed people of God. They treat the Body of Christ with contempt, all the while imagining that they are doing nothing wrong. However, God is holy, and He takes seriously disrespect shown toward His Son’s Bride. As an example of such disrespect, consider what was happening in the Church of God at Corinth when the Apostle Paul wrote his first letter to that congregation.
CONTEMPT FOR THE SAVIOUR — This verse has occasioned a surprising number of refusals to participate in the Meal as people have confused the adverb used in this verse for an adjective. Thus, I have often heard people refuse to partake of the Meal because they are “not worthy.” While there are good reason why a person should not partake of the Meal, feelings is not one of them. “Unworthy,” in our text, is an adverb? Had Paul used an adjective, he would have spoken of the suitability of the individual who is approaching the Lord’s Table. However, in using the adverb, attention is focused on the attitude of the individual as he or she approaches the Table.
The context substantiates this point. The Corinthian Christians were being exposed as professing one thing with their mouths and revealing quite a different belief through their actions. They would likely have given hearty assent to the concept of the church being the Body of Christ, but their actions denied this essential truth. Before reviewing the precise actions that elicited this strong apostolic censure, let’s explore how God views a congregation.
In this letter, Paul develops a vigorous ecclesiology. Early in the letter, he speaks of the church as a field. In 1 CORINTHIANS 3:6-9, he writes, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labour. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”