“What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not (1Co 11:22).”
The Corinthian Christians had committed the terrible folly of a wrongful approach to the Lord’s Supper, for which the apostle sternly rebuked them. By their behaviour they had looked down upon worship and held the Lord in contempt, regarding the remembrance of His sacrifice as worthless.
A wrongful approach to any act of worship is to despise the church of Christ. As the church is His body (Eph 1:22-23), if we should despise the church, we are in fact despising Him. Let the saints of God keep a watchful eye for other ways we might intentionally or unintentionally despise Him and His church.
HOW MAY THE CHURCH BE DESPISED?
Forsaking the assembly.
Some unbelievers or atheists ridicule the church as a useless, even despicable organisation. It goes without saying that Christians would not despise the church in this way. But unfortunately a common way Christians despise the church is by forsaking the assembly. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Heb 10:25).”
When we forsake the assembly we are declaring to the world that “worship is not important. It is good to go to church when you feel good, the weather is good, and you have no other engagement.” This is despising the church because we would be treating it lightly, according more importance and prominence to other things in our lives.
Accepting benefits without accepting responsibilities.
Do we partake of the Lord’s Supper in memorial of His blood shed for us, but do not seek the lost to tell them of Him? Do we listen to the preaching of the Word but fail to put it to practice in our daily lives? Do we own copies of the Bible but neglect to study the Word? Do we place our children in Sunday School but treat Bible classes as something less important than the myriad of things clamouring for our attention? Do we conduct ourselves as Christians on Sundays but for the rest of the week live like heathens?
By failing to prepare for worship.
We expect the preacher to be prepared to preach, but how do we prepare ourselves to serve? Song leaders prepare songs moments before service begins; men assigned to serve forget their assignments or are inappropriately dressed. Getting to bed late on Saturday night and feeling drowsy throughout worship on Sunday morning. Treating the church as a club where we meet friends for fun activities. And the list goes on, does it not?
Irreverence during worship.
Fiddling on smart phones and tablets, chatting with friends, walking in and out of the auditorium to answer or make phone calls, and other such like activities that distract from worship reveal the shameful lack of godly fear in many of the saints today.
Not taking doctrine seriously.
There are strangely some who think doctrines do not matter quite as much as living a good life; that the careful and industrious study of doctrines is a painful chore. They want to get to the practical parts. These immature souls do not yet realise that Christian living must be based on sound doctrine.
Unworthy giving to the church.
The ancient Israelites kept the best for themselves and offered the lame, blind, sick and blemished to the Lord (Mal 1:6-8). May we learn the painful lesson from history (cf. Rom 15:4; 1Co 10:11). If every member gives as the Lord has prospered, there would be so much more we could do for evangelistic outreach and benevolence.
RESULTS OF DESPISING THE CHURCH
The results are serious. We grieve the Lord when we despise the church (cf. Eph 4:30). Our spiritual lives weaken, as the Corinthians’ were when they held the Lord’s Supper in contempt. We might also become stumbling blocks to other Christians and visitors who might be considering obedience to the gospel.
We must remain ever vigilant and mindful against any potential action that might cause us to despise the Lord and His church, and recognise how we might have despised the church and then repent earnestly. Thereafter, let us resolve not to commit the error again and to serve with humility, joy and gratitude.