Joey Chestnut just won the national hot dog eating contest for the 9th time. The 9th time. He ate a record 70 hot dogs in under ten minutes. The runner-up was heard saying, “The pressure is real”.

Normally, having a meaningful meal with someone makes us want to repeat the entire event. Apparently, that applies to Joey Chestnut too. Thankfully, (I hope?) we often want something entirely different.

And we’re talking about food because we’re back in Corinth and there are problems around the dinner table again. The Corinthians are eating the Passover meal, a meal of deep significance that should have brought them closer together as a community, when Paul suddenly lashes out at them with rebuke:

“…When you come together it is not for the better but for the worse…”

“…I hear there are divisions among you…”

“…One goes hungry, another gets drunk…”

“…Do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?....”

The Passover meal was a meal of symbolic significance that united the brotherhood & sisterhood of believers. Elements signified the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery from Egypt. Jesus, while eating the Passover just before his death, symbolically (and then literally) makes himself the sacrifice. The bread and the wine; his body & blood.

You’re probably familiar with the phrase "familiarity breeds contempt." It’s easy to understand. Any of us can become so familiar with something or someone--no matter how good it is--that we begin to show contempt, a lack of gratitude, or just a laissez-faire attitude that strips the moment, or a person, of honor.

So, when we look again at the Corinthian dinner table, the obvious problem may have been how they were enacting & celebrating the meal. However, the deeper issue was they had lost all respect and honor for God and his community. Their familiarity had bred contempt.

When I pause for a moment and ask God to reveal my own heart, I can see the same contempt growing alongside all my good intentions. Left unchecked, it becomes a prevailing attitude that seeps into every area of my life, disregarding God & his laws, and treating others as beneath me.

What we need is a vision to call us higher, not just more “I ought to’s”. And so here is a vision to finish with. It is the words God spoke over the Israelites when their slavery to the Egyptians was finished:

Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
— Exodus 6:6-7

God looks at you and says:

“…I will bring you out…”

“…I will deliver you…”

“…I will redeem you…”

“…I will take you…”

Let’s follow Christ’s example, lay down our contempt, show him honor, and grow as a fellowship of brothers & sisters who sacrifice our own needs for another.

 

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