Ethics: New Friends Serve Lord’s Supper at Dinner Date

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What would you do Wednesday!

A new couple moved into town two months ago and joined your church. In order to get to know you better, they invited you and your spouse over for dinner.

Something unusual happened during dinner.

All of the food set on the table was covered; presumably to keep it warm. Your new friend, the husband, asked that you all bow your heads to give thanks for the food.

He ends his prayer reading about the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29.

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 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.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 11:23-29 ESV) 

After saying “Amen” your hosts then uncover bread and wine. They are overjoyed to have a fellowship meal and the Lord’s Supper with part of their new church family.

They pass the bread and wine around the table.

What would you do?

  • Take communion and enjoy dinner.
  • Take communion explaining later that you normally only do so when formally gathered for worship.
  • Politely refuse explaining that you normally only participate when formally gathered for worship.
  • Or….
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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jennyelaine November 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

In 1 Cor. 10, as we read thru the chapter, St. Paul speaks about this…he gives an example of being invited to someone’s home and how to handle it when they serve or do something that may be unusual to you. If you read through the whole chapter, it all comes down to doing all to the glory of God, which is to love…(as usual). Verse 31 through to the 1st verse of chapter 11 says, “Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or to the church of God (this covers everyone). That is the plan I follow too. I try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what I like or what is best for me, but what is best for them so they may be saved. And you should follow my example as I follow Christ’s.”

We have to learn this, which St. Paul speaks quite a bit about…in chapters 9-11. How to relate to different kinds of people for the glory of God. I rarely see these important principles taught or considered by Christians these days, so Christians are lacking in how they relate to others who view things differently…and so our witness is not getting through like it should and our light has been very dim, even nil.

2 Chris Roberts November 7, 2012 at 11:16 am

I would be inclined to politely decline pending further discussion: why are they doing it? How do they view it? What do they see as the qualifications for serving it? Etc.

3 rhology November 7, 2012 at 11:25 am

Politely refuse explaining that you normally only participate when formally gathered for worship.

4 Zack Stepp November 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I’ll go ahead and take a contrarian view: Seeing no biblical mandate to partake in the Lord’s Supper only during a church service and having no reason to question their motives, I would take it and lovingly and directly engage them in discussion about it. I’m more than welcome to review some biblical passages which anybody believes command otherwise.

5 Mark November 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I’m not 100% what I would do, but I like Zack’s answer. This situation would also open up the floor for some great theological discussion.

6 jennyelaine November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Yeah, I guess Zacks answer is better than Pauls…or why even consider what the bible says at all. Yea, I guess we should all just do it our own way…

7 MarieP November 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm

jennyelaine, I don’t think the curses Paul is talking about apply to this situation. The context is greed and selfishness around the table, yes. I believe, in corporate worship, but also so we will partake, not so that we won’t.. Like our brother Mark said, he’s not 100% sure what he’d do (and neither am I). I think I’d choose the 2nd.

Though, for some reason, I’d have a stronger reaction if a similar situation arose around baptism. Which would be an interesting discussion…

8 Mark November 7, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Jennyelaine, I suppose I don’t see Paul addressing this question in Scripture. Even in your first reply in which you mention 1 Cor. 10 you don’t offer what you think Paul’s conclusion is as best I can tell.

I would say it is not such a straight forward application to use 1 Cor. 10 to answer the blog post scenario. All of the couples in the scenario are professing Christians and none were offering anything like food that was offered in sacrifice.

9 Mark November 7, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Thanks , Marie.

10 jennyelaine November 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm

1 Cor. 10: 31Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.

In the whole of scripture, especially NT scripture I would dare say that it always takes precedent to do ALL that we do to the glory of God…for one. Then, wherever I am or whatever I am doing I always consider whether what I am doing is “treating others the way I would want to be treated”, which would be obeying the #1 command of the NT, which also is, ie; “not seeking just was is good for me, but what is best for them so they might be saved”…., or in another scripture if it has to do with Christians, then – so I do not cause them to stumble. Just because Paul uses the examples he uses, does not mean those are the only times we are to consider the people around us.

Does God address the issue of smoking in scripture? No, but we know that the answer is in scripture, as everything needed for life and Godliness (this covers everything) is in scripture. However, if we can’t find the exact wording or scriptures, then about everything is under the heading of love….as it fulfills all of the law, what the prophets proclaimed and when we love we fulfill God’s requirements in our actions (Gal. 5:13-14), because with the intent of loving others, we are much less apt to cause harm.

In the scenerio that you gave, or whatever scenerio there is…a person who is desiring to be a servant of Christ would always think of how their actions affect those around them. The #1 ethic of the NT, ie; the New Commandment that fulfills every other commandment, tells us this. One does not need to read far, in any NT book, before they would run into a scripture about love, or with love in it.

11 Cara November 14, 2012 at 10:11 am

JennyElaine nailed it in her response. When I was a young Catholic girl of about eight or nine years of age, something similar happened to me. A little boy, a neighbor who was also in my public school class, invited me to his house for lunch and to play, as we had a half day of school that day. It was a Friday and, as all Catholics did in those days, I abstained from eating meat on Friday. The little boy was Jewish. Concerned about what might be served for lunch, I asked my mom the night before going to Ethan’s house what I should do if my friend’s mom served up ham and cheese sandwiches or the like. (Obviously, I knew far less about Jewish dietary laws than I knew about Catholic disciplines! 😉 ) My mother told me that giving glory to God in all things was far more important than committing a minor transgression against a discipline imposed by church authority. After all, the “sin” of eating meat on Fridays back then was in no way related to the meat at all but rather to submitting in humble obedience to an earthly authority. She went on to explain why I should be gracious, what I should do if meat was the only option, and supported her position (which, to this day, I maintain was correct) with Scripture. The lesson stayed with me all these (50+) years later, even though I was spared any potential discomfort whatsoever. When lunch was served, Ethan’s mom said to me, “Today is Friday and I know you are a Catholic, so I made tuna sandwiches.” If the above scenario included me as a dinner guest, I would have partaken. Afterward, I would no doubt ask my hosts how they came to observe an unusual (for me) but clearly meaningful (for them) custom. Refusing to partake might have closed the door to any further (and possibly enlightening) witnessing to and uplifting of all present, presumably all brothers and sisters in Christ.

12 Mark November 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

I don’t understand how or why some of you are drawing parallels to the blog post and 1 Cor. 10. The blog post is speaking of believers fellowshipping and has nothing to do with false idols, etc.

13 Stephen Beck November 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Mark, I think while there may not be a direct connection to 1 Cor 10, it is true that the passage on eating is within the same section (as most commenters divide the letter) as Paul’s remarks on the Lord’s Supper in chapter 11. 1 Cor 10 also seems to be relying on the same principles as in Romans 14, where Paul encourages the “stronger brother” not to eat meat in front of a “weaker brother” who apparently only thinks it is right to eat vegetables. “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother….Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.” (Romans 14:13, 20)

Perhaps the most direct application would be here, if one was aware beforehand that the other party had a conscientious objection to partaking outside of formal worship, then he should not have the bread and wine present. However, your situation is more complicated: new friends are happy to take communion at many opportunities and offer it to you without knowing your beliefs. You didn’t specify who “you” were, but I think most of these ethics posts have assumed a pastor’s role. So, as the leader of a church, I think you should not attempt to enforce on your members regulations that are not scriptural (the preacher should especially careful that his application points are clear consequences of biblical teaching and not adding extra rules). I agree with Zack’s answer.

14 Jenny Elaine November 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I believe as I mentioned before, as 1 Cor. 10 is rich with teaching…how it speaks about that whatever we do we are not to just consider our own interests, but how we need to also consider those around us and how they are being affected by the situation. So, what it says is very pertinent. Also, him using the example of meat offered to idols was *one example* he used. So it was not just about meat offered to idols, as it could have been about anything….that is just the example he used, because back then it was one of the issues that believers came in contact with. I remember a Pastor saying once that St. Paul (who is our example – 1 Cor. 11:1) wouldn’t eat ice cream if it meant causing an obstacle to a non-Christian or causing a stumbling block to a believer.

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