Some might consider this offensive. How dare someone says that the services of a particular local church is doing more harm than good?! Well, take the matter up with the Apostle Paul—who through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—was moved to write—“In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good” (1 Cor. 11:17 NIV, emphasis added).
In the church at Corinth, their meetings were divided between the Haves and the Have nots (v.22). This was due to the city of Corinth’s own culture of status differentiation. The church had not rid itself of this cultural and social evil. It was infecting their meetings, especially at the Lord’s Table.
The Apostle could not praise them (v.17). In fact, according to Paul, to divide between the Haves and the Have nots is to despise the church of God (v. 22).
So when Paul begins at verse 23 with the tradition of the Lord’s Supper he had received, it should be read as a corrective against the divisive meetings of the Corinthian believers that were doing more harm than good.
The admonitions of verses 27 through 29 should be read in this light as well. This comes out more clearly in verses 31, 33:
But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.
So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. (emphasis added)
In other words, their meetings should NOT be divided between the Haves and the Have nots.
So what lessons may we learn from all this? First, we need to know that our meetings can actually do more harm than good. Second, our meetings do more harm than good when we create divisions, whether on the basis of social and economic standings, race, gender, or whatever.
Finally, we need to honor the prayer of our Lord in John 17:
I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (vv. 20, 21, NIV)
Yes, the reputation of our blessed Lord is at stake here, so let’s be thinking about how our meetings are doing more harm than good.