1 Corinth. 11: “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself”

I’ve never shared this story with anyone… so of course, this is a perfect time. Growing up my church had Communion based on the church calendar. Which meant there were sometimes weeks, even months between the celebration of Communion. Every once in a while we would walk into church to see the Communion trays up front covered by a white veil. In my young little mind I always thought, sweet, snacks!

[SIDE NOTE] Do you know how the tradition got started about covering Communion? Cause think about it, did Jesus cover the bread and cup? No. Many people believe it was a symbol of Christ’s time in the tomb. That’s cute, but not true. It may have morphed into that meaning, which is really good, but the early church covered the trays because they were trying to keep the birds from pooping on the elements. True story!

Getting Full on Communion

I was a church rat who had too much time to run around and get into trouble. While my parents were in choir practice, I was with my friends finding new places to explore in the church, including looking through the cabinets in the kitchen. Among other things, we used to grab a handful of creamer from the refrigerator and suck the cream out by biting into the lid. Again, true story.

One day we were snooping around when we found packages of flat, round, packing peanuts. We new they weren’t packing peanuts, but they tasted like it for sure. Not knowing any better we began to dare each other to eat as many as we could at one time. I think my friend (who will go nameless for their protection) got up to 11. The problem wasn’t eating them, it was trying not choke on the paste it created in your mouth. I’m not sure what caulk tastes like, but I think I found a close second.

Obviously I wish I knew then, what I know now. For me, there’s nothing more beautiful than celebrating the Eucharist once a month with my church family. The sacred symbol of Christ body and blood is something I respect greatly. I desire to teach the church the power of coming to the Lord’s Table and what it means not only to us individually, but corporately as well. The corporate celebration of Communion is as equally important to the church body, as it is to the individual body.

Love Feast

Paul found himself seething mad when he heard what the Corinthian church was doing when they partook in the Lord’s Supper. Due to the dynamics in the church, Paul heard that there was a division between the rich and the poor in the church. Apparently the rich were not accommodating the poor during both the fellowship meal (a.k.a. “love feast,” not what you think) or Communion.

At the Love Feast each person would bring food to share, since the rich brought more food they felt they had more right to the food for themselves. They lacked two important things: 1. Sharing, and 2. Caring.  Because the rich typically hosted these meals, which ended with Communion, they would choose for themselves who would eat in the dining area, and who would be relegated to the courtyard or atrium. Where a person ate became a distinction of class. This led Paul to make the distinction that yes, they were eating, but it surly wasn’t the Lords Supper (v. 20-21).

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Paul recognized that he needed to do more teaching in this area. Not only does his letter include instructions on how to administer the elements (vs. 23-26), but it also includes a warning the you need to check your heart before participating (vs. 27-32). It’s important to understand that no one comes to the table “worthy,” but because of God’s grace, freedom is extended for those who believe. The very nature of Communion calls for a time of introspection and examination of ourselves. If we don’t take serious the call to examine ourselves with a humble and repentant heart, we too could be found guilty of participating “in an unworthy manner.”

Basically, to quote my dawg Ice Cube, “You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.”