S116P3 – Difficult truths: the Corinthian church

1 Cor. 11:17-22

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

The kingdom of God is diverse.  Some might expect all Christians to be extremely similar in personality or manner of living simply because of their shared faith, but that is not the case.  Sure, we all are called to have a controlled temperament and certain characteristics such as compassion and generosity, but we also possess different personalities and are given different lives to lead for God.  Some of our differences are critical because they identify where each of our places is within the Church.  This can be a great source of division when people are not where they would like to be or have not been called to what they would like to be called.  It is a field ripe for jealousy and infighting. 

These suppers shared by the Corinthian believers had the purpose of bringing them together.  We see from this passage that these people did not all have the same means in life.  Some had much, but others had none.  These meals should have been a way for everyone to receive provision through sharing.  Instead, these people allowed their differences to divide them, and the unity they should have enjoyed was nonexistent.  This scolding from Paul was necessary because they were tearing at the fabric of the Church.  The Corinthians took the diversity God meant for his purposes and used it as a tool to stall their effectiveness by dividing their members.  Either they could stand united or crumble from division. 

One of the most beautiful things about the bride of Christ is that her members all contribute in different ways to her success.  God did not use cookie cutters to create us but made each of us a specific way for a reason.  We are hand-knit, and no two are alike.  He wants us to use what we have, to acknowledge what we do not have, and to work together understanding that no one has it all.  Envy, covetousness, selfishness, and discord are poisons, and poison brings death.  The bride cannot thrive and become pure unless we purge her of our impurities.  Father, teach us to value our diversity as necessary, and show us how our differences should work to unite us.