November 20, 2022

Table Manners: Discerning the Body

1 Corinthians 11:17-29

Those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.

—  1 Corinthians 11:29

A major problem the apostle Paul had to deal with in the Corinthian church was this: some members of the church were gorging themselves on the communion bread and getting drunk on the wine, and they were leaving others without any bread or wine to share!

These new believers in Christ needed to learn that this was not what the Lord desired. He wanted them to take the bread and wine with thankfulness and reverence. After all, Jesus called these elements his “body” and his “blood,” and then he offered his life as a sacrifice for his church.

When the Israelites received manna in the desert, they were told to gather not too much or too little, but just what they needed (Exodus 16:16-18). Paul wanted the same for the Corinthian church: receive what you need from God’s generosity and, in turn, be ­generous to others.

Otherwise, said Paul, they were not “discerning the body of Christ,” and they were eating and drinking “judgment on themselves.” In other words, when people do not humbly reflect on the meaning of the bread and wine (Christ’s gracious gift of himself to pay for all our sins), they disrespect both the gift and the giver, “sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”

So when we come to the table, may we humbly acknowledge the gift of Christ our Savior, and may we be thankful.

Lord Christ, help us to reflect on the meaning and beauty of your sacrifice for us. Give us humility and joy. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Kristopher Walhof

Kristopher Walhof is a minister in the Christian Reformed Church who lives with his wife and seven-year-old son in rural Kenya. He teaches Bible and theology courses to theological students seeking ordination in the Africa Inland Church (AIC) denomination.

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