By Brooke Holt
“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.” - 1 Corinthians 14:1-5
Have you ever been with a group of children that are excited about something? Consider a classroom of Kindergarteners who are getting ready for a field trip to the zoo. The joy and expectation are consuming. Energy surrounds the children and spreads rapidly throughout their classroom. This is much like Paul’s description of the Corinthian church. They were consumed with speaking in tongues. That ability filled them with joy and wonder. Unfortunately, those who spoke in tongues considered themselves the religious elite. They had a power and a gift that others did not have. So, they paraded that gift and showed it off to all who would listen and watch.
Paul has been teaching them another way—the way of love. In chapter 12, Paul taught that there were many gifts but one Spirit who gave the gifts. In chapter 13, Paul got down to the nitty gritty of the gifts. Without love, those gifts were absolutely meaningless, purposeless, to no avail whatsoever. Clearly, the Corinthians had it all wrong! They were self-focused, and through Paul, God was calling them shift that focus from themselves to the exaltation of Jesus Christ and the edification of the body of Christ.
All this spiritual energy and fervor of the Corinthian church needed to be redirected from self to God and others. Like children, they needed to grow up and see beyond themselves. The Lord had something much greater than that field trip or even the joy of standing center stage on church. The Lord had spiritual gifts to be used interdependently so that every person could thrive, not just the one exercising the gift.
Is that how you view corporate worship? Do you go with the purpose of exalting Jesus Christ and building up his people? Or do you go for yourself? The Lord loves to build up his people; he still loves when his children exercise the gift of speaking in tongues. Yet, just as his heart is for the body, so he longs for your heart to be for his body.
Go back to that question—how do you view corporate worship? Do you see the importance of being present and bringing your gifts and worship to build the body of Christ, or are you simply a consumer looking to be filled? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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