As a youth I was always fascinated with 1 Corinthians 14 and the description of what a Christian gathering looked like. As one who found church absolutely boring and predictable, I was intrigued by the inclusiveness of Paul's description of the order that was needed because of everyone's preparedness to participate:
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. (1 Corinthians 14:26)
Church in my youth was not unlike it is today. There may be a bit more singing and the songs may be a bit more upbeat and modern but the format is still the same:
- greeted at the door
- find a seat
- listen to the welcome and announcements
- sing some songs
- tithes and offerings
- listen to the preacher
- go home or out to lunch
Not a lot of participation or even potential participation. It is all very predictable and controlled. Man got his hands on the new thing that God was doing and had to control it. Take note in this passage that Paul was not trying to control the Spirit but simply to help the Corinthians understand that there must be some order to it all:
- If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. (v. 27)
- Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. (v. 29)
- And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. (v. 30)
Wow! I wonder what the experience must have been like? The freedom to speak through as many people as he chose, the various revelations that would come in, the variety of speakers, no long winded preaching. Realize the beauty of this:
For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. (v. 31)
I point this out to you because it is important for us to understand that we are still often governed by the traditions of man. Many of us think that we walk in the freedom of the Spirit believing that what was done by the previous generation was God ordained. I think God has a lot of patience with us, that he has permitted many things that are not his will, and that we should really examine what governs us.
As far as I am concerned every generation should question what has been handed down to it and every person should seek God's will for themselves. There have been many incorrect teachings in the past. Perhaps the evil age of denominations is now over. I certainly see a lot more mix of Christians online. I rarely hear people online discussing their denominational differences. But I am still thinking we don't do church right.
We have become very professional with our clergy, our priests. I don't care what denomination you are from, we treat our ministers, our pastors, our clergy like priests and that is not what we see here in this passage. It was recognized that everyone was filled by the Spirit and had received spiritual gifts for the Church. No one had to show their credentials before bringing a word. There was no requirement to obtain a bachelor degree before being accepted to speak. The traditions of man did not exist yet and the Spirit flowed with incredible power.
Just as we have seen a revolution take place in our worship, where there is more freedom now to worship and praise with our spirit, so we must see a great change in our approach to our gatherings. I still long, as I did as a youth, to see the Spirit move again like he did in the beginning, when we will recognize that we are all members of the royal priesthood, that everyone is capable of being used by the Spirit to bring instruction and encouragement to the Body of Christ. Learn to distinguish the difference between the traditions of man and the will of God.