“Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you” (1 Cor 11:20-22).

It is truly difficult for us to imagine the social complexities of the first century Christian community, but based on Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians we get a little glimpse. In the first century, there were not only gaps of inequalities between men and women, but also between slaves and free, and these gaps were celebrated by the more privileged in society. The early believers truly struggled with the idea that Jesus died for every member of the community (rich and poor, slave and free), the result of which was the privileged freemen at the church in Corinth turning the Lord’s supper (a commemorative meal in honor of the Lord) into their own personal feast. As the women and slaves stood on the side with mouths watering, the rich men would sit down at the table gorging themselves on bread and clinking their wine glasses in celebration of the “Lord’s” goodness to them.

How we treat people reveals a lot about our own personal understanding of the gospel

Richard Hays aptly describes the situation like a flight where those who can afford a first class ticket expect far better service and preferential treatment. How we treat people from different socio-economic classes and how we treat people who are of different ethnicities in our weekly gatherings reveals a lot about our own personal understanding of the gospel.

“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism” (James 2:1).

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