1 Cor. 11:17-22 (ESV)
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.  For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,  for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.  When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat.  For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.  What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
There is a lot to chew on in these words. First off I am intrigued by the idea that going to church may not be for the better, but for the worse. Some think it doesn’t really matter where you go to Church; it is just good to go. Paul it seems disagrees. For one there should not be divisions and factions in the church. A Church should be at the very least united in doctrine and practice. This is one reason I don’t care to have a church with varying styles of worship. It may be necessary to have 3 or 4 different services, but people should not be made to feel uncomfortable if they happen to go to church at a different time during the day. Worship should serve to unify a congregation not divide it. It should be done is such away that parents, children and grandparents can all worship together.
One does though wonder what the factions were. Does it apply to modern day denominations? I can only think that it does at some level. Denominations are supposed to reflect common teaching. We separate from others when our teachings are at odds. In effect we are saying we are not unified in the Gospel. The other denominations are teaching heresy, and we cannot abide with that, even if we are unified on some points. For this reason Baptists and Lutherans don’t worship together. We disagree as to what grace is. If we were unified in that they would baptize infants, and we would commune together. But we can’t they teach something different.
Paul says it was not the Lord’s Supper they were eating. This is quite interesting. What defines the Lord’s Supper? Is it not the words of institution? So why is it that we don’t believe the Baptists, or Mormon’s have the Lord’s Supper even when they use the words of institution? There is more. There is also the matter of the elements; you can’t have the Lord’s Supper if you go about changing the elements. We are not at liberty to exchange wine for grape juice or water. But there is more to this. One could have the proper elements and the words, as I’m sure the Corinthians had, but they did not have the Lord’s Supper. There was an attitude with which the congregation, not just an individual, approached the Lord’s Supper, that nullified it. An individual, who does not believe the word’s of Christ, yet nonetheless goes to the altar in a congregation that has the supper, still receives the Body and Blood. We don’t believe our faith has any bearing on the reality of the Supper, but neither do we believe that one just saying the words in any situation has the Supper. It is more dynamic then either of those ditches on the side of the road. They showed by their actions that they did not believe it was the Lord’s Supper. They used it as an occasion to get drunk, and humiliate others who were poor by eating in front of them and not sharing. People who understood and believed in the words of Christ, would not have behaved in such a manner. Like wise people who take the words of Christ seriously do not take it upon themselves to change the elements. It wasn’t the actions that nullified the Supper, but the belief that led to these actions. When a congregation denies that it is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, despite Christ’s very clear words, then they do not have it. One might make a case that they actually mock Christ, and His clear words.