Opening Question: When you think about the ministries we currently have in our congregation as well as the direction you would like to see us take in the future, what criteria do you use to make your decisions? Are they based on what’s best for the congregation – or what’s best for you and your family? (Of course, sometimes what’s best for you is what’s best for the congregation. But, what if it isn’t?)
1) The Christians at Corinth were struggling with divisions and controversies in their congregation, including the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). Based on historical research, it appears the wealthy members of the congregation were eating choice foods and drinking wine in the dining room and were not sharing it with the poorer members of the congregation who were relegated to the atrium area of the house where they were meeting. Paul chastised them for acting like this because in the church there are to be no social or ethnic boundaries.
2) To help them understand this, he reminded the rich Christians that Jesus Christ shed his blood and broke His body for them as well as for the poorer members of the church. As a result of the sacrifice Jesus made for them, they needed to realize God expected them to act better than this because when they sinned against other people, they are also sinning against the Lord. Because of these sinful habits, some of them were weak and sick and God had even removed some of them through death.
3) This passage shows God also has the following expectations for us as well: A) We are to put the good of the body (that is the church) above our own personal wants and desires. And B) We are to take our sin seriously because God certainly does.
4) When we do these two things, we: A) Will not allow the different levels of financial wealth within our congregation to become an issue. B) Will use our abilities and personalities to work for what’s best for our congregation, even if it isn’t what best for us as individuals at the present time. Strong-willed individuals won’t try to push through personal agendas but will stand up and be a voice for the poor, oppressed and less fortunate. Those with more passive personalities will speak up on behalf of those who need a voice in the congregation. And, C) Need to understand if we have running water, plenty of food, extra clothes, a warm and dry place to sleep and, most of all, some money in the bank, we’re richer than 95% of other Christians around the world. As American Christians, we are all rich and we need to help our brothers and sisters around the world.
5) As we prepare to have our Lord’s Supper next week, we need to prayerfully wrestle with the following questions: Are my actions and desires at Snake Spring Valley for my benefit or for the benefit of the congregation? In what ways am I sinning against others and, ultimately, against Jesus? Is the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for me important enough for me to attend the Lord’s Supper next Sunday evening?