I love the opportunity to visit other countries and share the love of Christ with the people in those countries. What I hate about it is the plane ride. They fit 10 people across the width of a plane designed for 8. The flights are always full and for some reason, I can’t sleep on a plane unless I’m completely exhausted. Some airlines have decent food, other airlines….well…. Sometime, on every flight, I’ll look at my wife and say, “Why do we do this again?” She invariably reminds me that we endure the plane flight because of our desire to share the love of Jesus with others.
That’s actually a pretty good question to ask ourselves in the Church every so often. “Why are we doing this?” or “Why are we doing things this way?” It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routine of church work and forget our purpose. At the same time, if something exciting comes along it’s easy to get caught up in that moment of time and lose our bearings as individuals and church members. This was happening to the Corinthians. Some seemed to have been given the gift of tongues as shown in a private prayer language. Paul reminded them again that gifts of the Spirit were designed to build up the Church more than the individual believer. He urged them to seek the gift of prophesying. “But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)
The Corinthians were getting excited, and perhaps proud, that the Holy Spirit had given them the gift of a private prayer language. Perhaps they shared that excitement by praying with their friends in that tongue. Perhaps they used it in church, loudly. It was disruptive and added nothing to the general feeling of worship. Paul made the point that if God wanted the person to exclaim such utterances in their private tongue, He would provide an interpreter. He also noted that prophesying was more important in the life of the church than speaking in angelic languages. Prophesying doesn’t mean telling the future. Prophesying means that people are explaining the word of God to people around them. His point was that the word of God would bring conviction of sin and the recognition of their need to repent and turn to God. If God’s people would speak the truth about His word, people would recognize the presence and the Lordship of God. Paul might add, “and that’s why we do this!”
Perhaps if we focused on that question a little more in our churches, we would see more people recognizing the presence of God in our churches and that they would commit their lives to Him. If we examined everything we do as churches in light of that question, some of us might keep doing what we’ve been doing all along, but by recognizing the meaning behind the actions, there will be more power from God in our church. Isn’t that what we want? Isn’t that why we sacrifice our time and put our talents to work in the church? We want to experience God’s presence and see people come to Christ. We may realize that some things don’t make sense in these days. As we seek God’s direction, He will lead us in the right way to adjust worship services, Bible study, church administration practices, I could go on, but you get the idea. All that we do as a church needs to be pointed towards proclaiming God’s word in such a way that people will recognize that we are in God’s presence and that those who need to get their lives right with God will feel compelled to do so because the Holy Spirit is working in them.
Oh Lord, remind me that all that I do should be designed to lead people to know and love You. Let me share Your word and Your love with others so that they can draw closer to You.