More harm than good!

I have recently been looking throgh Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and especially the bit about the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11 v 17-26). Although I have read this passage many times before, this time, it became very powerful.

It’s the bit when Paul says to the Corinthians that they do more harm than good meeting in the way they do. Trying to understand the background I looked into Chapter 1 and found out how the early church had sort of lost its way forgetting the centrality of the cross of Christ and ending up in big arguments. In chapter 11 I think Paul is saying that because the community of Christians didn’t recognise each other as part of the body of Christ, equal, chosen (Chapter 1) then what they did in their ‘meetings’ was harmful. Someone has said that there was too much spiritual snobbery!

So is it still the same today I thought? When we take communion do we recognise everyone as equal? Is it the same in other services…if we don’t recognise everyone as chosen by God … do we cause harm on each other?

I often come away from church feeling fed up. What I’m trying to do now is to ask whether those feelings are because I cannot tolerate other people’s expression of faith. Is it because their style of leading, prayers, ethics is not in line with mine that I find it difficult. This is a big problem because I can’t see how I can change my own feelings and beliefs whilst also accepting that others are just as right??

Andrew

7 Replies to “More harm than good!”

  1. Its proably a bad way of saying the bread and wine, the Lord’s Supper. This is the context of Paul telling the Corinthians that they were doing more harm than good. At the moment our church is struggling to feel clear about the Lord’s Supper should be done. The gender thing has come up and what we actually say. The gospels and Corinthians all use different versions of what Jesus said. Does this tell us that it doesn’t really matter?

  2. There is a real difference of opinion on this. Some want the communion part of the service to be a time for quietness. They don’t like music being played. They want nothing else to interfere. Paul in 1 Cor 11 talks about the meal being a proclamation of faith? I think quietness can proclaim, loudly! But is there a need, like the early Christians would have, to talk through Christ’s life and death in some, way before sharing the bread and wine, and so indoing so proclaim the ‘message’?

    Some want not to focus too much on the death of Christ but his resurrection. This doesn’t fit in, as I see it, with what Paul says. Procalim his death. Jesus wanted his death to be remebered more than anything else??

    Most important Paul is going on about equality. There shouldn’t be anyone who is not seen as equal. Some in our church have a big thing about women giving thanks for and sharing out the bread and wine. Why? I don’t see any problem with this. perhaps I’m missing something?? But equality in Christ should mean it.

    Andrew

  3. I’m not sure how to respond to this. I suppose one thing is, I always think how equalising communion is – no one in the service is the host, feeding the rest of us (at least in my view, which sounds like Paul’s view). We’re all coming to Jesus to be fed by Him, as equally needy and forgiven people. I feel a similar sense of unity and ‘communion/fellowship’ when we all say the Grace together – we’re all praying for all of us as one community who will be together for ever!!

    >What I’m trying to do now is to ask whether those feelings are because I cannot tolerate other people’s expression of faith. Is it because their style of leading, prayers, ethics is not in line with mine that I find it difficult. This is a big problem because I can’t see how I can change my own feelings and beliefs whilst also accepting that others are just as right??

    Not sure I understand what you mean. But I don’t think we need to say that other people are ‘just as right’ (after all, I believe some things rather than other things because they seem more right and convincing), but they have as much right as us to have their views respected and tolerated (within reason). I think in an ideal church we’d know how to express our views honestly and accept our differences (which there must be), and unite and cooperate in making the most of what we have. (But I’m not sure if that ever happens.)

    It’s difficult too when it comes to people thinking something is too important to compromise on. I think then it’s necessary to have different kinds of church. I don’t think denominations are a bad thing, as long as they’re seen as complementary rather than rivals or enemies. After all, I don’t expect everyone to enjoy the same kind of music or food, but we can still agree that music or food in themselves are great, and go to different restaurants. (Don’t take this argument too far though… If you want to eat something that’ll kill you, I’m not going to say that’s just as good…)

  4. I’m really surprised by the women thing – that makes me quite angry.

    Of course, the music thing is a problem in every church ever!

  5. All the best to you and your church as you figure this out, Andrew. I’m interested that it’s the debate of the moment – quite unusual in my experience; it’s been 20 years since I’ve been at a church which discussed this. I wonder if this means that most churches just carry on doing what they’ve done before for eucharist without much thought?

    So, I hope the debate is fruitful and genuinely throws up some things that people have just assumed about before… I do hope that women are allowed to give thanks, as they certainly seem to be doing that in 1 Cor 11. I like the idea of saying *something* to remind and explain and proclaim what we’re doing in communion, but I don’t personally think it needs to be the same set of words each week (and it could dwell on different aspects of the meaning of communion each week – it’s an extraordinarily rich ritual).

    Strange that people want to emphasise the resurrection at the expense of the cross, since the bread and wine seem to speak primarily of Jesus’ destroyed body. I’m sure it’s great to remember the resurrection at communion (eg his death has brought as life as we share in his resurrected life) but surely not at the expense of Jesus’ death.

    So, basically I’m agreeing with your concerns – I hope you’re able to contribute to the debate, and I’ll pray that you come across as both thought-through and peacemaking 🙂

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