The Chair and the Desk, 4/28/16

From the chair:

“But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.”

-1 Corinthians 11:17-22

I must confess, this passage actually says the opposite of what I assumed it said the first time. Contrary to what I expected, Paul says, “there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” Though bleak, that phrase comforts me–perhaps our denominationalism is not beyond Paul’s wildest, worst imagination.

However, it isn’t what he’d want. I don’t think it’s what we want. I’d go as far as to say I don’t think it’s what God wants. I can’t say one way or the other on denominations, but denominationalism–where we are more loyal to our group than to the Church of Jesus Christ–this is a problem. The counter-proposal is delightfully concrete: Communion. Sure, we will have factions at times, because we desire to know who is genuine. Nonetheless, there is a larger crowd than we might think with whom we can remember Jesus, obey the Lord, gather, eat the bread, drink the wine.

From the desk:

“No man has a right to lead such a life of contemplation as to forget in his own ease the service due to his neighbor; nor has any man a right to be so immersed in active life as to neglect the contemplation of God.” 

-Augustine, The City of God, XIX, 19

There’s wisdom here, with at least one word of correction for anybody, two for some of us.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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