In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Paul tackles the next problem he notices in his church in Corinth. It's that when people ate the Lord's Supper (also known as communion), they would do it for the wrong reasons. Instead of treating communion as a time to solemnly and thankfully remember Christ's death on the cross, they treated it as an all you can eat food and drink fest. Instead of waiting for one another and making sure that everyone had a chance to participate, some of the Corinthians Christians would rush to consume as much of the bread and wine as they could, leaving nothing left over for people who came after them (v21). As Paul says in verses 21 and 22a:
21 for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk.
22 Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?
So Paul has some stern words for his church. What can we learn from this?
1.Whenever you take communion, do it for the right reasons. Keep in mind what the purpose of communion is: it's to remember how Christ shed His body (represented by the bread) and His blood (represented by the wine) so that our sins could be forgiven (v23-25). When we proclaim His death through communion, we give room for God's incredible love to change us and renew us again.
2. Make communion a priority. Some Christians think, "Communion is no big deal. I'll take it when I can. If it's not convenient, I won't." Thus they could go months, even years, without ever taking communion. But remember: when Jesus lived on earth, he instituted two sacraments (formal ceremonies) that he wanted his church to observe: the first is baptism and the second is communion. Jesus wasn't the type to make things more formal than necessary, so if Jesus went out of His way to institute this sacrament for us called communion, then it must be important and we should observe it regularly.
3. Be considerate of others when you take communion. Some Christians treat communion as an extremely private experience between them and God, such that it doesn't matter if others are with them or not. But that is not the purpose of communion. Communion was always meant to be a shared, communal experience. In fact, the word "communion" doesn't just mean fellowship with God, but also with other believers. Communion quite simply would not be communion without your other brothers and sisters in Christ.
While different churches observe communion differently, the same principle remains: when you take communion, be considerate of one another. See communion as a chance to remember both aspects of the body of Christ: that is, both Christ's physical body and His body today the church. When you take communion, thank God for sacrificing His body on the cross so that you could be forgiven. At the same time, thank God for making you a part of His body (the church) and adopting you into His family along with other brothers and sisters in Christ.