“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #133
“When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not” (1 Cor. 11: 20-22).
Paul—in a typical move—says that when the Corinthians gather to eat the Lord’s Supper, they are not gathering to eat the Lord’s Supper. The evidence for this that Paul cites is that one person rushes ahead to eat his own food, another person is left out, and somebody else gets drunk. Clearly this is happening at Corinth because the Lord’s supper was occurring in the context of a love feast. There was enough food there for people to be greedy with it. If you want to eat your own food, Paul says, then why don’t you eat and drink in your own homes? When you bring the disparities that exist between rich and poor into the Lord’s Supper, you are undoing the purpose of the Supper.
Benjamin got a much bigger portion than his brothers because Joseph was showing him favor. Joseph gave him five times as much (Gen. 43:34). Saul, a son of Benjamin, got a choice portion when he sat down at the banquet because Samuel was showing him favor (1 Sam. 9:24). If we were to allow the rich man in our assembly—the big tither—to have a much bigger portion, our observance of the Supper would be declaring a falsehood. Allowing something like that to occur in the Supper is to introduce distinctions at the Supper that the Supper was designed to undo.
When we allow this kind of income discrepancy to become manifest in the Supper, we are doing sacramentally what James prohibits in the seating arrangements (Jas. 2:2). We are making distinctions that have no place in our midst. When we behave in a way that shames those without, we are despising the church of God. We cannot despise the church of God without also despising the Table in the midst of the church of God. And if we despise the Table while we are sitting around it, we are not really observing the Lord’s Supper. It is not the Lord’s Supper that we are partaking of—even though it is the Lord’s Supper we are despising.