Corporate worship is an expression of love
1 Corinthians 11:17-22, 28, 33-34 (ERV, easy to read version)
In the things I tell you now I don’t praise you. Your meetings hurt you more than they help you. First, I hear that when you meet together as a church you are divided. And this is not hard to believe because of your idea that you must have separate groups to show who the real believers are! When you all come together, it is not really the Lord’s Supper you are eating. I say this because when you eat, each one eats without waiting for the others. Some people don’t get enough to eat or drink, while others have too much. You can eat and drink in your own homes. It seems that you think God’s church is not important. You embarrass those who are poor. What can I say? Should I praise you? No, I cannot praise you for this. Before you eat the bread and drink the cup, you should examine your own attitude. So, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If some are too hungry to wait, they should eat at home. Do this so that your meeting together will not bring God’s judgment on you.
To worship as a congregation, a group of people, requires us to be selfless, to consider others first. Sunday’s meetings are not a social event, but a coming together of ONE body. They are not to ‘top you up’, but actually to empty you out! God cares about people, and it’s not just the leadership’s responsibility to care for people, it is everyone’s.
Paul was not happy with the Corinthian church because they were treating the meetings very selfishly, serving their own needs and desires and ignoring others (particularly those who were in greater need). There was division because people cared more for their own opinion and self-importance. Some things never change!
Congregational worship is more than just a group of individuals individually worshipping. Church is not a place for you to express your own individual worship, it’s not about you. Our attitude to church needs to be checked. Are we coming to ‘get our own fill’, ‘to get our own experience of God’? Do we come in with self-importance, because of some revelation we think we have that makes us better? Do you think any of that impresses God?
Let’s develop our personal, at-home worship life so that we don’t come to church desperate to be filled or fixed. Let’s avoid being self-indulgent, where our need to experience God at church crushes our desire to serve others. Church is about people, not you. Get your fix at home, don’t depend on the church to give it to you. The heart behind Paul’s chide was this: our attitude should be one of waiting on and serving each other. We belong to each other, so let’s make church about other people, not ourselves. It’s in the place of serving other’s needs that we find our own needs met. It’s in that place where we are helping others to engage with and experience the presence of God that we meet with God ourselves in a real, powerful and life-changing way.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Our corporate worship is for the sake of each other, not ourselves. Our hearts should be for each other: selfless, servant-hearted. Unity which comes from selflessness produces life.
Romans 15:5-6, NIV
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.