“When ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it… When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper” (1 Cor. 11:18, 20).
Paul says that when people gather together in order to celebrate the Lord’s Supper when there are divisions among them, they are not actually eating the Lord’s Supper. You might go to a church service and there might be bread and wine, but if there are divisions, it isn’t the Lord’s Supper. But the result is not just a benign neutrality. Paul says that they come together not for the better but for the worse. Later, he says that people who do this, eating and drinking in an unworthy manner, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking damnation upon themselves by not discerning the Lord’s body.
Now this can happen with people in the same room together, between husbands and wives, between parents and children, between elders and deacons or members of the congregation. This is one reason why it’s a good practice to look around during the Lord’s Supper. Make eye contact with the members of your family and those around you. Smile. This meal means fellowship, communion. Is there anyone here that you’d rather not make eye contact with? Why not? Paul says we are to discern the Lord’s body: that’s all of us together. We are His body. We are one loaf.
But recognize that sinful hearts look for work arounds. So, maybe you go to the downtown service so you don’t have to risk seeing someone at the main campus, or the early service to avoid someone at the late service. You can look around and feel pretty comfortable, but that isn’t the same thing as discerning the Lord’s body. It’s entirely possible to bring divisions to the table with you even if the division isn’t visible at the table with you.
So this is the exhortation. This meal signifies the broken body and shed blood of Jesus for all of your sins and for all of the sins of every Christian welcome here. This is the basis for our unity. And therefore, you can cheerfully entrust whatever bumps, tensions, misunderstandings, or sins there have been to Jesus, the Host of this table.
That is a hard thing to do. Do you need that grace? The good news is that part of what He’s doing here is giving you the grace to deal with those challenges faithfully. So if you know that you need that grace, then come and welcome to Jesus Christ.