Troubles in the church
From Sex in the church, to problems with the Law, various worldly philosophies creeping
in, and in this section, the abuse of spiritual gifts and women disrupting the services; Paul has had to correct them numerous times, and all of which are to our benefit today. The Lord has shown me from this passage and others like it that the goal of ministry is to be a “spotlight operator”, not the one in the spotlight. Regardless of what we do in the service of Christ, we are to be pointing the spotlight of attention on Him, and not on ourselves. The problems of the Corinthian church in this passage as well as in many of today’s western churches can be boiled down to people desiring the spotlight of glory to be pointed at them in how they serve, how they sing, what they know, and how they speak, instead of on the Lord. John the Baptist said, He must increase, but I must decrease. Even as I write this blog, I must check my attitude as to whether it is for my blog followings or His glory to be shown for your benefit that I write.
1 Cor 14: 26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. 29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. 36 Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored. 39 Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God of order, not chaos or randomness. My church services are to be spirit led but that mandates spirit controlled. I AM the God of peace and orderliness so that people in my congregation can see me undistracted by the selfishness of your personality and human need for recognition and attention. “Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” I AM the God of glory who rightfully deserves the spotlight. The goal of a church service is about your witnessing my glory portrayed by the messengers, musicians, and servers who minister in a respectful and orderly manner. They point the spotlight of attention on me by their service, song and teaching. They direct your attention to my glory. Imagine me sitting on my throne positioned right behind the preacher high and lifted up, with my gaze directly on receiving your worship of me. Before you stand up to interject in the service, check your heart so as not to distract from that goal. Ask yourself where are you pointing the spotlight of attention, on you or me?
The problem of our self centered humanity
This passage refers to distractions in the church. Distractions bring focus away from God and put them on us like the spotlight illustration in the beginning. Just because we are believers in Christ does not negate our internal need to be noticed. A trick I learned in meeting people at gatherings is to just keep asking them questions about themselves and you will not want for conversation. The key is to mean it. When you get up in front of the congregation to sing and you notice that you feel nervous, check your motives as to why you want to sing. When I speak in front of the congregation, I find that when I focus on being a blessing to the congregation with a message from Christ which they need and will encourage them, my focus is no longer on what they will think of me and my nervousness subsides because I don’t care what they think of me, the message is for them regardless. I realize that I am not a Billy Graham, but that does not give me permission to not exercise my gifting. Trust that God will use your gift to meet a need in the church in one way or another so you can relax. It is not a matter of being as good as or bad as another servant, it is a matter of being faithful to bless others with what God gave you.
Being noticed is placed in us by God
God wants to be noticed by his beloved creation – us. That is what it means to glorify him – to point out his glory to others. He has instilled that same character quality of wanting to be noticed into man and women. Because of our fallen nature however, that quality is tainted from its original design. Men gain their self worth by what they make and I find myself wanting to show off my accomplishments. Little girls desire that others notice them as they twirl in a new dress. Women want anything new regarding them to be noticed by others as well. In the church, this is no better demonstrated by how women want to sing, or by how the preacher expounds knowledge in his messages. But when it detracts from the Lord’s glory, it doesn’t matter how good you do, it becomes a self promoting distraction and should be corrected. It’s not about you, it’s about the only one worthy, so get behind the spotlight of your gifting and shine it on him.
More to come,