Our positive response to an organized environment reflects the image of God in us. Order creates beauty, peace, and allows us to focus.
How have you felt when you’ve entered a room that is noisy and chaotic? I know that I begin to feel on edge, and if it is beyond what I am comfortable with, I find a way to silently leave. We have a natural desire to be in environments that have structure and order. Our positive response to an organized environment reflects the image of God in us. God created order out of chaos and we do the same. Order creates beauty, peace, and allows us to focus.
In 1 Corinthians 11:2-34, Paul is writing to the Corinthians to bring order to their public gatherings. As we have already seen in chapters 1-10, the Corinth church was struggling with a number of issues. Now Paul turns his attention to the disorder and chaos that was happening in their public gatherings. Paul recognized that certain cultural norms and theological truths were being discarded in the church and this section of his letter addresses two of them – veiling and the Lord’s Supper.
Veiling, or head covering, was a cultural norm of the Jewish faith and is unfamiliar to us today. The Rabbis taught that a head covering for men or women was about their own unworthiness in relation to His complete worthiness. Paul is only addressing one aspect of veiling in this passage as it pertains to women within the culture of his day. Many nuances existed to veiling and the separation of time and culture has obscured some of what this passage means. However, its primary meaning of coming before God in reverence, honor, awe, respect, and love is not in doubt. Paul was attempting to restore this basic understanding of how to approach God through addressing the unrest in the church about how veils were used in the public assembly. Before we dismiss this issue as irrelevant, we need to remember that we, too, must also prepare our hearts when coming before God in worship.
Once Paul addresses veiling, he turns his attention to the Lord’s Supper (Jesus’ Table as we call it). Chaos was present in their celebration of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. This celebration typically involved a meal and wine was served. The focus of their meal was to be on Jesus, their relationship with him and each other, and how their new life powered by the Spirit was to be lived. Instead, these meals turned into selfish cliques leaving some out of the celebration altogether and overdrinking to the point of drunkenness on the part of others. Paul gives instructions to follow to bring order to this most important celebration in the church.
Why is this passage so important to us today? Coming before God with an open heart, including each other in our lives, and keeping Jesus the main focus of our lives will help us to experience the beauty, peace, and focus that God desires for us.