The Body – PART 8:
Pass the Baloney Sandwiches!
6 April 14
(This article can also be found on our website
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This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Imagine going to a church where class distinctions were highlighted, the “haves” and the “have nots” were definitely two distinct groups and the result was that one group felt shamed and, ultimately, the Church was despised. In our text today this is what was happening. One group was eating prime rib and the other was eating baloney sandwiches.
Before we jump into the text, does anyone in the group want to recall an experience where they were made to feel like a second class citizen? How often do people struggle with feeling like they don’t fit in, measure up or are not good enough?
Big Idea: Jesus Eats Baloney Sandwiches!
Text: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
The Problem (v.17-22)
Read the text and list all the clues in these verses that illustrate that the Corinthian church had problems. You can be sure that this was a sick church in many ways.
Note that the divisions Paul is talking about here are different than the kinds of divisions he had referred to earlier. These divisions were around the rich and the poor. The prime rib eaters and the baloney sandwich consumers.
Paul is concerned with at least two social facets of the problem, namely, the disorderliness and the inequality of the proceedings. Neither of these characteristics was at all unusual at Greco-Roman banquets which were usually followed by drinking parties. The larger dining rooms in homes were equipped to hold only nine to twenty people, and there were certainly more Corinthian Christians than that. Regarding the triclinium/dining room - archaeology has shown this room would have held about 9-12 people. The majority would eat in the atrium which was like a courtyard holding 30-50 guests. It was the normal practice to rank one’s guests in terms of social status, with those of higher status eating with the host in the dining room and others eating elsewhere and getting poorer food - prime rib vs baloney.
Notice that the abuse was so bad that Paul says (v.20), “it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat…” The Lord’s Supper took place within the context of a meal and it was to remember Christ (see below). The abuse was so bad that even though they may have been going through the motions, their corruption of it had turned it into anything but the Lord’s Supper. They were adopting the social paradigm of the day and transferring it into the church. Meals were often occasions to show off social status. They were bringing the manners and practices of the culture into the church.
Where have you seen the social paradigm of the day transferring into the church and thus despising the church?
How would you describe Paul’s response towards them? What might be his dominant emotion?
What are modern-day examples of division within the Church?
Now, notice how Paul proceeds to tear down the walls of division
The Solution (v.23-34)
V23-26 - The original context was Jesus with his disciples eating the Passover meal, at which time he reinterpreted the bread and wine in terms of his body and blood, soon to be given over in death on the cross.
Note “remembrance” (v.24,25) - This word is stated twice. It is defined as the act of putting something in the mind for attention. They are forgetting what this meal is all about and thus you have this mess in Corinth. They need to remember.
Note “proclaim” (v.26) - Who?
They were not remembering or proclaiming Jesus.
Note “new covenant” - Covenant refers to a contractual arrangement between God and a person, or between human beings, which required binding action from one or both parties; one party often had higher status in the arrangement.
Who has higher status in our context? God. He is in the “dining room”, as it were, but what did he do? He crossed over into the atrium - breaking down the barriers.
The heart of the Gospel is the Greater One coming down to the lowly, the Greater One humbling Himself, making relationship possible. At Christmas we celebrate God becoming a man, and at Easter God (in Jesus) submits Himself to the humiliation of a cross and death. Stepping down.
This is the heart of the Gospel. But note that what was going on in Corinth at the Lord’s Supper… was exactly the opposite of the heart of the Gospel. What was the result?
When you don’t remember and you don’t proclaim the church can become something that is profane!
Now Paul gets really practical in how to tear down some walls.
V.27 - When we do not allow this Gospel to invade our horizontal relationships we sin against Jesus. How does one make sure they are not eating and drinking in an unworthy manner? See v.28.
V.28 - What am I looking for as I examine myself? See v.29.
V.29 - The body of the Lord is referring to the church, the very issue he raised in v.17-22. Note 10:17,12:12.
People could be eating and drinking and celebrating what Jesus has done, but be absolutely unwilling to do what Jesus did for them. Do you see how this not only humiliates people, but despises the church? V.27 says it even more clearly - “sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”
They were supposedly vertically-transformed… but horizontally-challenged!
Note Paul’s final words on this topic (v.30-34). Note the anger of the Lord towards Corinth on this issue.
Some questions as we wrap up:
Who might be in your “atrium”? Who might you be unwilling to move toward?
A class distinction might cause you to not move toward someone.
Someone may have hurt you and so you have put them in the atrium.
Someone in the atrium might be someone you refuse to forgive.
Possibly a person in your atrium is someone who has made no attempt to move towards you. Thus you think they don’t deserve your kindness. You think “they deserve that baloney sandwich!”
Someone who is just weird perhaps is in your atrium. “Weird” builds walls and justifies my disengagement.
Let’s face it, we can so easily isolate people, build barriers and distance ourselves from others who we think are so undeserving. The heart of the Gospel, at times, can be the farthest thing from our hearts, even though we drink the cup and eat the bread.
Lord forgive us! Lord teach us to eat baloney sandwiches!
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