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What Happens in Corinth

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  1. What Happens in Corinth...
  2. The Core Calling of Every Christian
  3. The Problem with Beauty Pageants
  4. How Name-Dropping Works
  5. A Word to Preachers and the People Who Listen to Them
  6. The Real Meaning of Maturity
  7. Why I'm Not a Disciple-Maker and You Aren't Either
  8. The Power of a Well-Placed Comma
  9. The Problem of Worldly Christians and the Remedy
  10. On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand?
  11. Why Your Local Church Matters and Why It Might Not
  12. When the Church Should Divide and When It Shouldn't
  13. Working at the Bottom of the Org Chart while Reporting to the Top
  14. Why I Think I'm Better Than You, and Why It Must Become Just the Opposite
  15. The Respectability of Conventional Religion
  16. The Two Words That Signify Mature, Adult Christianity
  17. The Problem with Saying, "Lord Willing and the Creek Don't Rise"
  18. Why Sexual Immorality Is Not the Problem
  19. The Church at Corinth as a Bad Jerry Springer Rerun
  20. Why We Need Track Shoes When It Comes to Sexual Immorality
  21. What a True Sexual Revolution Might Look Like
  22. Why We Need Sound, Orthodox Biblical Scholars
  23. Why Be a Coach When You Are Called to Be a Player?
  24. The Most Important Question for Married Couples and Couples Considering Marriage
  25. Until My Rights Are More About You Than Me They Are Wrongs
  26. The Difference between Being a Door Mat and a Door Way
  27. Dealing with the Other Golden Rule
  28. Baby You Were Born To Run—Just Not Like You Thought
  29. Why Those Who Cannot Remember Their Past Are Destined to Repeat It
  30. Is Jesus Like You?
  31. Why Facebook Now Offers Unlimited Customized Gender Identity Options (For Americans)
  32. What If We Tailgated before Church?
  33. Some Reflections on the Original Happy Meal
  34. "Jesus Is Lord": From Conviction-less Claim to Core Truth
  35. What Our Bodies Can Teach Us about God
  36. Do People Actually "Have" Spiritual Gifts?
  37. Why the Only Thing That Counts Is the Thing We Probably Aren't Counting
  38. Do You Eagerly Desire the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?
  39. Why Worship Is Not about Preaching and Singing
  40. Why Greeting Your Seat Mates in Church Won't Cut It Anymore
  41. The Big Reason God Writes Us Letters
  42. Why New Testament Worship Is More like a Potluck than a Production
  43. The Definitive Guide to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
  44. Where Does the Gospel Begin? It Matters What You Think.
  45. What If They Found the Bones of Jesus?
  46. How the Christian Faith Becomes Something Other Than the Christian Faith
  47. The Difference Between the Story and the Plot
Lesson 32 of 47
In Progress

What If We Tailgated before Church?


1 Corinthians 11:17-26 (NIV)

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.


To those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people (i.e., us):

Worship matters to God, and not just that we worship but how we worship. I don’t so much mean how we worship with respect to guitars or organs but with respect to order. Paul will spend the next few chapters of his letter dealing with the issue of order in worship for the Corinthian Church. And he’s not happy about what he’s heard.

This issue he raises regarding the Lord’s Supper is an interesting one and can seem a long way from our situation today. A closer look might reveal a different story. In order to make my point, let me describe what they were doing then in a more contemporary analogy.

Imagine that the church tailgated in the parking lot before worship. First, get a picture of the sweet fleet of vehicles gracing the place; lots of sweet Range Rovers and Mercedes SUV’s, several Porsche Cayenne Turbo SUV’s, tons of F-150 pickup trucks and tricked out mini-vans. Now imagine the incredible display of grills and cookers and accessories that come with today’s standard tailgate. Then get a load of the incredible buffet of food—steaks, burgers, ribs, pulled pork, bratwursts and all manner of boutique hotdogs, potato salad, coleslaw, relish trays and we haven’t even gotten to dessert yet. Visualize the party people going from tailgate to tailgate sampling food and saying hello and yes, imbibing the variety of libations.

Worship is about to begin, but there’s a small problem. All the folks who don’t have sweet rides, elaborate tailgate gear and endless food begin showing up for worship. Most of them rode a bus for hours to get there. By the time they could get to the tailgate at which they would get nothing to eat, the tailgaters are already in church and helping themselves to the Lord’s Supper. Not only did they not wait for the poor people who were late, they snarfed up all of the provisions for the Lord’s Supper and drank up the remaining wine until they could hardly walk out of the building and find their cars.

This gives us something of a mildly analogous snapshot of what was going on in the church at Corinth. Consider the mockery this was making of the Lord’s Supper itself. Paul suggested that they couldn’t even legitimately call what they were doing the Lord’s Supper.

So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk.

In some sense, Paul seems to say, “Don’t for a minute think you are remembering the Lord when you have practically forgotten the poor. It’s not the ritual that creates the righteousness, but the righteousness that verifies the ritual.” It’s a theme as old as Amos and Isaiah and as new as last Sunday. If we are going to forget our neighbors in need on Monday there’s little point in showing up for worship on Sunday, Tailgate or not.

It seems fitting to give a prophet the last word.

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
(Amos 5:21-24)

The mercy of God is there’s still time to take the next step.


Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. This word from Amos challenges me. “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” I confess I am all to ready to sing the next song without asking myself the hard questions of justice and righteousness. Come Holy Spirit and search my heart, show me all the ways my life offends your sense of justice and the ways my worship might grieve your heart. I pray in the name of Jesus, amen.


  1. What is the the connection between the worship of God and the care of the poor?
  2. Why do you think God cares that we not just give the poor a “handout” but actually enter into real relationship with them?
  3. Can a community actually be an expression of the New Testament church who has no real relationship with the poor other than charitable giving?