The significance of Head Covering:
(Read 1 Corinthians 11:1-6)
Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of Christian liberty. Paul followed Christ’s example in his ministry. So, Paul encourages Corinthians to imitate him as he is imitating Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). The Christian life is not controlled by legalism but by Christ. In Chapter 11 to 14, Paul addresses several problems related to worship. First he explains the principle of headship and submission. In the Corinthian church women were dishonoring their husbands by praying in public worship not wearing head coverings that were a symbol of femininity and respect for authority (1 Corinthians 11:5). The head covering in public worship was also a symbolism of submission to God ordained authority (1 Corinthians 11:4-7). Women who reject this symbolism are openly disgracing themselves and dishonoring their husbands (1 Corinthians 11:3-5). Paul attempts to correct this problem by pointing to the relationship between Christ and the Father. Christ gladly honors the Father and accepts his authoritative role in the redemptive work of mankind (1 Corinthians 11:3). In the same way, the marriage relationship reflects an authoritative role between man and woman (1 Corinthians 11:3-6; Ephesians 5:22-24). The head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is the man and the head of Christ is God (1 Corinthians 11:3). The headship does not speak of quality but of order. The Father and the Son are co-equal, yet the Son is obedient to the Father (John 6:38-40; 10:29-30). In Christ men and women are equal when it comes to salvation but they have different roles in the church and family. This order we see in creation, government, family and the church. Christ is the head of the church (Col 1:18). Therefore man and woman should be submissive to Christ. Paul says “It is shameful for a woman not to cover her head in the church” (1 Corinthians 11:6). The wife should respect her husband's authority over her as the Son honors the Father. When we embrace the clear instruction given on manhood and womanhood, God will be honored in our churches. It is important that our conduct in worship must reflect the character of divine order.
Is the Head covering Scriptural?
(Read 1 Corinthians 11:7-16)
Having established the principle of headship, Paul validates it from the scripture and from Nature (1 Cor 11:7-16). Man was created in the image of God to reflect God's glory (Genesis 1:26-27). The order of creation shows that woman was made for man. She is the glory of man. Man should not cover his head, since he is the image bearer of the glory of God. So, in the church man should not cover his head since he is the image bearer of God’s glory (1 Corinthians 11:7). The women should cover their heads as a sign of submission to authority because the angels are watching (1 Corinthians 11:10). The principle of submission is supported by the order of creation (1 Corinthians 11:12). The principle of mutual dependency is supported by the order of procreation (Genesis 4:1). By nature women have long hair and it is a glory to her. It has been given to her as a covering by nature. When she covers her head, she reflects her voluntary submission to the Lord who created her and established the order of authority. To go against this principle is to go against the standard that is ordained by God. It is important that our conduct in worship should reflect the character of divine order. God takes our gender and sexuality seriously and provides clear instructions for us in the Scripture. Pray that God would help us to embrace these principles so that Christ will be honored.
The Conduct at the Lord’s Supper:
(Read 1 Corinthians 11:17-22)
While observing the Lord’s Supper, the poor were neglected and humiliated during the Lord's Table (1 Corinthians 11:21). In the early church the Lord's Supper was preceded by fellowship meal at the Lord's Table. It was a sign of communion among believers. Neglecting the poor believers in the meal was a sin and called forth the Lord's judgment. This reveals the carnality and division among them. There was party spirit between the rich and the poor. Paul says "There must be division among believers in order that those who are right among them may be recognized". Paul suggests that it is better to separate than continue in disagreement. Abraham separated from Lot. Because of sharp disagreement, Paul and Barnabas separated from each other (Acts 15:39). Paul will not allow carnality and disorderly conduct to continue in the church. The love feast became a feast without love. Thus, they disgraced the Lord’s name in the church (1 Corinthians 11:20-22). Paul wrote “Don’t you have your own homes for eating and drinking? (1 Corinthians 11:21). Sometimes division occurs in the church due to misunderstanding but the God of grace can overrule it for his glory.
The Institution of the Lord’s Supper:
(Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
Paul gives instructions about how Lord's Supper should be observed. Paul traces his authority to the Lord himself and takes us back to the upper room where it was first instituted (1 Corinthians 11:23; Matthew 26:26-28). In the Lord’s supper he wants us to think about Calvary and what Jesus said about its significance. This is the time believers remember Jesus who secured their forgiveness by his death on the cross. He shed his precious blood for the remission of their sins. Christ is memorialized at the Lord's Supper as the Lamb of God. There are many misunderstandings about the Lord’s Supper among Christians. The Roman Catholic doctrine teaches that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ when consecrated by the priest during mass. This is called transubstantiation. Others teach consubstantiation and believe that the bread and wine convey special grace by Christ's presence in them. But this is only a memorial service. On the night when Jesus was betrayed, he took the bread and gave thanks. He broke it and said “This is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Me'' (1 Corinthians 11:24). In the same way he took the cup, after the supper saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. As often as you drink it, do this 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'' (1 Corinthians 11:24-26). They do not literally become the body and blood of Jesus Christ as some think. Figuratively they speak of the incarnated body and blood of Jesus. They do not convey any special grace as some think. It is a picture of the eternal redemption Christ brought for us on the cross (Hebrews 9:12-15; Matthew 26:28). Like the Passover celebration of Israel, Christians ought to celebrate Lord’s Supper, remembering the great redemption Christ bought for them on the cross (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19). In the early church the Lord’s Supper was celebrated on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). In the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of God's great power to forgive our sins.
Do it in Remembrance of Christ:
(Read 1 Corinthians 11:27-34)
In the Lord’s Supper, we remember Christ’s great love for us (Rom 5:8). There is no love like the love of our dying Savior (Galatians 2:20). Also we proclaim that only through His sustaining power and grace we are able to live for God. We look backward and recall the Lord's accomplishment for us on the cross. We also look inward and examine whether we live a life that pleases God. Also we look forward and anticipate Christ’s glorious return. Those who irreverently and carelessly observe the Lord’s Supper will be judged. Our identity with Christ made us worthy to partake from the Lord’s Supper. Paul warns that we should not partake from it in an unworthy manner. This is defined in verse 29. Unworthiness speaks of our dishonoring conduct and attitude at the Lord’s Table. Such people are guilty of despising the body and blood of our Lord (1 Corinthians 11:27; Hebrews 9:26). He who eats the bread or drinks the cup unworthily, not honoring the body of Christ invites judgment upon himself. Before one partakes of the Lord’s Supper, he must make sure that he is saved and walking in fellowship with the Lord. Repentance and confession of sin are essential prerequisites for fellowship with God (1 John 1:9). Partaking of the Lord's Supper with wrong attitude toward fellow believers invites judgment upon us. Because of that some become physically weak and sick (1 Corinthians 11:30). Some have died. If we judge ourselves, we will not be disciplined by the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:32). God disciplines His own children for their good and his glory (Hebrews 12:6). The purpose of discipline is not to condemn but to restore us.
Is your Worship Acceptable to God?
The worship is universal. There are acceptable worships and unacceptable worships. God was not pleased with the worship of Cain (Genesis 4:5). By Faith Abel offered to God an acceptable sacrifice than Cain (Hebrews 11:4). We worship God not because there is something deficient in the all sufficient God but He deserves our worship. God does seek our Worship. Worship is the outflow of our heart's devotion and gratitude toward God (John 4:23). There are many vain worshipers (Matthew 15:9). They worship God with their lips while their heart is far from Him. Some are ignorant worshipers (Acts 17:23). They worship whom they do not know. Religious worshipers promote human wisdom and traditions in their worship (Colossians 2:21-23). Some worship God by not giving him the honor and respect He deserves (Malachi 1:6-7). Worship is costly (2 Samuel 24:24). God is looking for true and sincere worshipers (John 4:24). They worship God in spirit and truth. The worship in spirit happens when our hearts are directed by the Holy Spirit. To worship God in truth means to worship sincerely with personal knowledge and understanding of God. We worship God by presenting and consecrating ourselves to God (Romans 12:1). Also we worship by offering the sacrifice of praise which is the fruit of our lips (Hebrews 13:15). Doing good and helping others in their needs are acts of worship (Heb 13:16). Our giving to Lord's work is a fragrant and acceptable worship to God (Philippians 4:18). Even our death could become an act of worship (Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59; 2 Timothy 4:6). Evangelism is an act of worship (Romans 1:9). Paul concludes the discussion with a practical exhortation. "If you are really hungry, eat at home. But when you come to Lord’s Supper, wait for each other" (1 Corinthians 11:33). When we remember Christ through the Lord's Supper, we remember his great act of love and proclaim that we need his strength until he returns. Paul assures Corinthians that he will deal with other matters when he visits them (1 Corinthians 11:34).