...Have Ye Not Houses...?
The "Church Social" or "Covered Dish Dinner" has long been a tradition in the South. Among those of faith, there is often great satisfaction in getting together and enjoying one another''s company while enjoying the physical blessings that the Lord has provided in the form of good food.
In its place, this can be a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, in many instances, this kind of celebration is not kept in its place. Often these "church dinners" are just that - held at the meeting house of the church. This is seldom questioned; as I've said, it's tradition. But does the Bible, God''s inspired Word, say anything about this at all? The answer is yes, it does.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. ... When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper...What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not." (1 Corinthians 11:17-22).
The apostle's statements here leaves little to question. First, these Corinthians were not coming together for the better. Second, the purpose for coming together was not to partake of the Lord''s supper (the very statement implies that they should have been coming together to do so). Third, he asks the question, "What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?" This is a rhetorical question, or one that has its answer implied. The implication is that they did have houses to eat and drink in and the coming together of the church was not the right place for this. If this is not enough, read what he says in 1 Corinthians 11:34, "And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."
Does the apostle tell these brethren to eat at home or does he not? If we wish to follow the Word of God, we must recognize this. Where does this leave the tradition of the church social?
Read what Jesus said in Matthew 15:8-9, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
Does the church where you attend engage in "church dinners" at the meeting house? If so, do you think that the apostle Paul would attend if he were still living and invited?
Let me encourage you to search the scriptures daily, whether these things are so (Acts 17:11).
—Mance J. Davis, Jr.