But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. (1 Corinthians 11:17)
Assembling For The Worse
There is no doubt the church at Corinth was ripe with conflict, division, false doctrine and abuse of the simple pattern given by Jesus to remember His death. Paul used strong language in his first letter to the Corinthians to charge them of the seriousness of their attitudes, actions and obvious lack of focus to the real purpose of why they were a church of God. Satan had produced division among the ranks and a party spirit prevailed among the brethren. Concerning the supper of the Lord, the saints at Corinth had made it be a festive occasion of eating a common meal neglecting one another bringing shame on the less fortunate. The result was the church of God was despised because of their insolence toward the word of God and one another. Finding the root of the problem, the apostle writes the brethren did not come together for the better purpose but for the worse. Their reasons for gathering together as a body of Christ were for every reason but the right reason. They assembled in accordance with the law of God but like the Israelites of old, it was vain worship. The prophet Malachi wrote of how the Jews had made worship to be such a weariness offering profane sacrifices to a God that was weary of their disrespect for Him. Now in the New Testament church, the attitudes of complacency had filled the hearts of the disciples to where they came together because they had to but it was not with a heart of love for God. The Lord’s Supper was corrupted. Women refused to keep their place in the assembly. Party spirit’s ruled the hearts of those who sought allegiance to Peter, Apollos, and Paul. The worship service was filled with chaos. In general, the church at Corinth had degraded into a place where God was not honored, respected and revered for the Holy God that He was as the people came together for every purpose but the worship in spirit and truth.
One of the greatest maladies among the people of God has always been the corruption of worship. With all the providence and benevolence of a loving God caring for them throughout their time from Egyptian bondage, Israel struggled to honor the Lord with respect. They murmured, complained, rebelled and refused to acknowledge the power of God in their lives. Following the captivity, the remnant gave the Lord broken sacrifices condemned by men like Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. When the New Testament church was established, attitudes of complacency quickly entered the hearts of worshipers as they went through the motions, fulfilled the required commandments and gave a half-hearted effort to praise the Lord. The seed of vain worship continues to plague the church of Christ as many come together not for the better but for the worse. Worship can become a drudgery of fulfilling commandments, dotting the ‘I’s” and crossing the legal “T’s” of what is expected without the true nature of communing with the Almighty. Corinth struggled with the reasons they came together and it became a time of confusion degrading to worship that was without spirit and lacking truth. Worship is an individual response in a collective atmosphere as the church comes together on the first day of the week to honor the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The focus of redemption is found in the blood of Christ and the Father expects with a demanding presence honor given to His Son. Ignoring the command to assemble on the first day of the week dishonors the gift of God and brings judgment against the soul of the uncaring, insensitive and unresponsive disciple.
There is a growing tendency among God’s people to view the first day of the week as a time to fill their lives with all of the trappings of a carnal world. Assembling is not for the purpose of giving honor to God but to quickly fill the time and then hurry back to the hectic pursuits of the world. It is easy for things to come in conflict with the assembly. Ball games fill the first day of the week taking precedence over God. Plans fill the schedule on the first day of the week much like the other six days of the week. Sunday is far from being a day devoted to God because the purpose of assembling has lost its luster. If a person ekes out the time to come to church the heart is far from why worship was ordained by the Lord. There is little heartfelt worship as the mind dwells on the things to do for lunch, where to go after lunch, swimming parties, shopping trips, projects to fill, places to go, movies to watch and hosts of carnal pursuits in the rat race world of a material world. When the invitation song is sung families frantically hurry out the door with little heed to the gospel call. Spiritually weakened soul’s burden through the day with no purpose of why the Lord commanded His people to assemble. They do not come together for the better but for the worse and their lives reflect the same. Sadly, there will come a day when the most important thing on their mind is worship to God but it will be too late. Worship is a way of life that is found in this world as we make our way to an eternal abode. Waiting to worship God with purpose in judgment will be too late. Why do you come together? Examine your life and peer into your soul and find the reasons why you come to worship the Lord. Let your heart find a place with God. Take time to be holy.