Regarding this next item, I'm not at all pleased. I am getting the picture that when you meet together it brings out your worst side instead of your best!
First, I get this report on your divisiveness, competing with and criticizing each other. I'm reluctant to believe it, but there it is.
The best that can be said for it is that the testing process will bring truth into the open and confirm it.
And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship - you come together, and instead of eating the Lord's Supper,
you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can't believe it!
Don't you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God's church? Why would you actually shame God's poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I'm not going to stand by and say nothing.
Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord's Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread.
Having given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.
After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.
Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of "remembrance" you want to be part of?
Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.
If you give no thought (or worse, don't care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you're running the risk of serious consequences.
That's why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave.
If we get this straight now, we won't have to be straightened out later on.
Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.
So, my friends, when you come together to the Lord's Table, be reverent and courteous with one another.
If you're so hungry that you can't wait to be served, go home and get a sandwich. But by no means risk turning this Meal into an eating and drinking binge or a family squabble. It is a spiritual meal - a love feast. The other things you asked about, I'll respond to in person when I make my next visit.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)