Devotional on 1 Corinthians

Q&A session

1Corinthians 11: I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you.

I’m not sure that the questions sent to Paul by the Corinthian church are legitimate or just a seeking of more ammunition for their church squabbles. The Apostle answers a few of their questions and then defers the remainder until he can meet with them in person. When he deals with the chain of authority from God to man to woman he bases this approach on how other churches see it. He also warns them that chain of authority or not, that there’s not a lot of value in “who’s first” debates anyway. Church dinners are a concern. He’s not really against them meeting together for a meal but he’s greatly concerned that the “haves” are meeting early so they can eat their fill before the “have-nots” arrive. On the topic of communion, Paul brings out the big guns. What he’s about to say doesn’t come from the practices of the other churches as is the case with the chain of authority. Rather, this comes from the Lord, himself. They must always receive the communion meal in reverence and in remembrance. They’re to be very careful that they “never let familiarity breed contempt” and they’re to handle the meal as a spiritual activity and not as a way to satisfy their hunger. For a person to do otherwise is to bring judgment on his or her life. As I read this passage I can’t help but compare the “that’s how all the churches do it” to “these instructions come from the Master himself.” “How the churches do it” ought to carry weight with us. God’s people have carefully thought out how to best operate as Christians, applying their faith to current concerns. As a part of the Church I’m to take those traditions and practices quite seriously. However, beyond that is the “instructions of the Master.” Sometimes God wants things done in a particular way. I might sometimes (rarely) look at “how the churches do it” and think times have changed and a different approach might better reflect my faith in today’s culture. At the same time, I’d better be very careful here. Some things come from the Master himself. I have absolutely no authority to make adjustments in those areas.

Take Away: On occasion, with the passage of decades, the traditions of the Church might change, but the Church never has the authority to ignore the specific commands of the Master.

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