“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #131
“Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse” (1 Cor. 11: 17).
Paul here returns to the subject of the Lord’s Supper, but which I don’t believe he ever entirely left. He covered the Lord’s Table in the first part of chapter 10, which then blended readily into his discussion of pagan sacrifices. With chapter 11, he moved into his discussion of sexual orderliness, which is what the head coverings were all about. And here, in v. 17, he comes back to how the Corinthians are coming together in “communion.” I see him bringing his thought full circle—he is not jumping randomly from one topic to another. Our sacrifice of praise led to a discussion of the meat the pagans sacrificed to idols, which led to a discussion of sexual propriety in worship. This brings him back to the point he was driving to all along—the disorderliness of their worship.
Christian worship can do more harm than good. We can be worse off after a service than when we went in. Grace is not imparted automatically, Coming to the Lord’s Table can leave us worse off than if we had not come. This is because it is a covenant meal, not a magic meal. Covenants have terms. They can be honored or broken. The way this covenant is honored is by means of faith alone, and if we are coming to worship in the only kind of faith that God gives, which is living faith, then we will not be doing destructive things to our neighbor, and to our own souls because of that.
But when the relationships between husbands and wives in a church are disordered, that means that when they come together, the disorder will be apparent. That obvious disorder will be used either as an excuse for immorality, or as an opportunity for it. When men are in conflict with one another, the top three reasons are women, money, and glory. In this stretch of his letter, Paul is treating all three.