Reverent Participation (1 Corinthians 11:27-32)

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” (1 Corinthians 11:27–30, KJV)

To be honest, there are many times when I have entered a worship experience and not contemplated the weight of what we were doing in the corporate assembly. What I mean is that the corporate worship was more like an obligation that we were doing than something of substance and deep meaning. I confess this as a sin, for our principal goal as believers is to worship God and especially in meeting together for worship.

Let us consider the weight of our corporate worship experiences. When we assemble it is not just a group of people in a manmade structure. It is something far deeper than this. When we gather together, we realize that in a special manifestation the Holy Spirit is present, joining us together with God and each other (1 Cor12:13). Moreover, in a mysterious but real way, we are present in the heavenlies. Paul wrote that we are already seated in the heavenly places (Eph 2:6). In our assembly Jesus is present in a very unique and special manifestation (Matt 18:20). On top of this, the angelic host is present in our worship (1 Cor 11:10; Heb 1:6, 13-14). When we consider all of this, we cannot escape sensing the weight of the moment, the presence of the glory of God.

So, it is sad that we often participate in the activities of worship in a ritualistic way while losing the reverence that we ought to have. This also happens when we participate in the Lord’s Supper, the remembrance meal. This was exactly the problem at the church in Corinth. Their behavior in the selfish display of some that disregarded others in participating in the meal showed that there was a lack of reverence in the corporate participation in the meal.

Consider this. To exhibit selfishness in the participation was to show a wanton disregard for others in the body. It was a sin to treat others in the body with such disregard. The church is the body, the body of Christ. To sin against others in the body was to sin against Christ Himself. How could one claim to have a proper attitude of worship in partaking of the elements when sinning against Christ? He or she could not. Here it was an issue of the heart.

Frankly, any harbored and unrepentant sin is an afront to a holy God. This includes the affront of vain ritual in worship. Those who do not have a proper perspective on the depth of meaning of the meal of remembrance partake with an irreverent heart. Paul indicates that there is great risk in this. In fact, some were sick and some had died because of this evil.

When you worship corporately, do not enter the building as if you are just going to sit there with a group of people and put your time in. Enter with a heart prepared to worship. Take time to pray and seek the Lord, and give Him the praise and the glory He alone is due.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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