Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 22, 2019
What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 1 Corinthians 14:26
The church in Corinth was facing a very real threat to its unity and health, largely driven by the inappropriate use of spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and prophecy. Rather than seeing such gifts as a way the LORD wanted to unify his church and send them out on a shared mission, they were tearing each other apart as they vied for power, position, and prestige. Add to the mix an unbalanced understanding of “freedom in Christ”, as well as a complicated local situation in which a group of women were disrupting the public worship service, and you begin to see the truly chaotic picture of this early Christian community!
Is there anything more universal to our contemporary Western ideology than the embrace of personal freedom? Though we may not say it so boldly, often in our actions and behaviors we reveal a core belief that life is meant to be lived for my comfort, my success, and my happiness. Other people are judged by the degree to which they either assist me in this pursuit or stand as an impediment to my goals. Our identity is first and foremost personal and individual, with any larger group affiliations coming in as a distant second.
For Paul, personal freedom and individual gifts are not given simply for your own good but are meant to contribute to the flourishing and health of the entire family of God. And while the specific details of our culture and context are wildly different than ancient Corinth, there are timeless truths in Paul’s words that we would all be wise to embrace.
According to Paul, church is not a place you go simply to receive something you need or learn something you didn’t previously know. It cannot be just as easily found in a podcast, therapy session, or TED talk. Similarly, the church does not exist for you to have a platform to be known and recognized for your unique skills and gifts. Instead, church is meant to be a constant encouragement towards a life of humility, selfless service, and self-giving love for the good of others.
Does love for the other animate and direct your spiritual life? Are you willing to keep opinions and positions to yourself and remain silent in order to preserve a relationship and build someone else up in love? When you do speak, either in private conversations or in offering your gifts to the wider church body, seek to have your words and actions motivated by a heart of love and a desire to see the peace of God established in every area of your life, family, and community!
Father, thank you for the gift of the church and the way life together with other believers is a way you are making me more and more like your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
When are you prone to speak your mind and offer firm opinions when the situation instead calls for the harder work of silence and humility?
Words and actions motivated by a heart of love, desires to see the peace of God established in our life, family, and community. #WisdomHunters #Jesus #buildup
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