“Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.” (1 Corinthians 11:33–34, KJV)
I heard a story once about a man that was shown two feasts that illustrated two places, heaven and hell. In both, the tables were set lavishly. Every imaginable food was set out before them. On the tables were every delicacy imaginable.
Looking into the feast in hell, the participants had all this lavish food, but not one morsel was eaten. Everyone there was miserable. They were famished starving and withering away to nothing. The observer could not believe his eyes. Why with all this food could the people there be so miserable. Then he was told the answer. Their knives and forks were so long that they could not get the food to their mouths.
Then the same man went to the feast in heaven. They had the same lavish food setting. They also had the same utensils. Yet, they were all overjoyed, happy, and well nourished. The man wondered how this could be. Then he watched and saw every person at the table could get food on his or her fork and feed the other person across the table. He saw a picture here of people who cared for one another while those in hell only cared for themselves.
These last two verses in this section on the Lord’s Supper bring up some very interesting thoughts. Paul tells the church that when they come together, they must “tarry” or wait for one another. The phrase, allelous ekdechesthe, translated “tarry one for another, could also be translated “share with one another.” The word ekdechesthe comes from two words, ek, a preposition meaning out of, from, by and dechomai, which means to receive. It could mean that those participating were to receive one another and partake together. It is a picture of harmony and selflessness where there weas selfishness and disunity.
Those who indulged themselves and left others in hunger and thirst were to repent from their actions. They needed to change the attitudes of their hearts. Paul went on to tell them that if they were hungry, they should eat at home so that everyone could partake. His exhortation was for their own good, so they would not incur judgment for their irreverent behavior.
We in the church must realize that we are not there for ourselves alone. It is about our relationship with Jesus and His church. Frankly, if our relationship with Christ is right, then necessarily our relationship with His body, the church, will be also. Understand that the church, the ekklesia, is not a building or a place. It is the people redeemed by Christ. Thus, we have a responsibility to care for one another in the body and in this way, we minister to Jesus.