Sunday after church, Lana and I drove to Orlando for a very important meeting...our son is getting married and we were meeting his future in-laws for the first time. I have been looking forward to this meeting for a long time, and it was everything I hoped for: the parents were easy to talk to, are just as excited about the wedding as we are, and we are all thankful that these two "kids" have gotten together.
It really was everything I hoped for...except for the food I had. We met at a restaurant I had frequented many times for many special occasions, but this time was a disappointment. Usually I get a quality, 4.5-star meal and go home full and satisfied. This time, though, the meat was just rubbery...I know everything tastes like chicken, but this chicken didn't. It's a good thing we enjoyed the company; otherwise the whole experience would've been ruined.
There was a time in the Corinthian church where the same thing was happening - people were coming to church and eating a meal together that just didn't turn out the way they had hoped. Apostle Paul addressed this in his letter to the church, and was serious about correcting this that he promised to come and give further instructions. What was the problem they experienced?
"When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don't you have have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!" (1 Corinthians 11:20-22)
Do you remember when you were a kid and you KNEW you had done something wrong, and your parent's tone made sure you knew that?!? That's the impression I get here from Paul. He is so frustrated with them and their lack of compassion and concern for others that he is coming to town to hold "communion classes". Why is this so important? Because the whole exercise was designed to help us remember what Jesus did for us, where we reflect on His Body being broken and His Blood being shed for us.
I think our approach to taking communion together says a lot about us when we think about the attitude that we have as we take the elements and "do this in remembrance of Him". If all we care about is getting what we want and overindulging ourselves on what is put before us, we miss an opportunity to have a powerful with the Body of Christ. At the communion table, there is no room for competition or consuming more than our brothers in line with us. This should be all about practicing this mandate from Jesus, where we come into union with Him and with each other.
This restaurant we went to had a waiting time for us to get in; they always do. I wonder what might happen in the church if we took Paul's words seriously?!? Would there be so many people coming that a hostess has to let them when their turn will be to come in and taste and see how good God is? Would there be people examining their own hearts before they received the elements so that they were right with God before they did? Would there be a decrease in conflict with others and an increase in compassion towards others? Would there be a reason for people to keep coming back? And, would they be motivated to go out and tell others to come in with them
Those are things for us to think about when we consider and pray about the people we share the Lord's Supper with. And as long as we're experiencing time with Jesus and are excited about the people we share that experience with, it won't matter how bad the chicken tastes. We'll walk away looking forward to getting together again soon...I think that's the outcome Paul was after and we should be after that, too!