Have you ever been in a meeting of the church that was anything at all like the one described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14?
A meeting where every believer present is free to share, and most do…
Where ministry is carried on, not by one or two people, but by all the members…
Where the “body” of Christ is alive and functioning, in the full meaning of the word?
How about a meeting where brothers and sisters are constantly interrupting one another, and such behavior is not seen as being rude! A meeting where you are free to open up your mouth and share at any given moment, depending on the revelation of Christ that is burning in your heart to do so. A meeting where, when an unbeliever comes in and sees the holy ones assembled prophesying to one another, Christ is revealed before his very eyes, to the extent that he falls down and confesses, “God is living in you people!”
Ever wonder why we evangelicals spend so much time trying to perfect our church doctrine according to the scriptures, yet care so little to hold up our church practice in the light of the same?
The kind of church meetings that prevail in the Christian world today can for the most part be carried on with or without the presence of much spiritual life; it is all essentially a matter of “conducting a service.” But a meeting like the one described in 1 Corinthians 14 cannot be manufactured, for it requires a certain spiritual dynamic to be in operation in order to “make it happen.”
In most assemblies it is the pastor who is the acting head of the body when the church comes together for ministry (meaning the members take their direction from the pastor). There is a prescribed order of service and that is how it goes. Ministry is confined to a few. This is true even in Charismatic congregations where there is supposed to exist a greater freedom for such things. The body thus assembled fosters an unhealthy passivity in its members as each week the believers file in and out of the building only to listen to a sermon while failing to get any of the spiritual exercise that comes from mutual encouragment and ministry to one another.
This is not to come down on anyone or anything. It is only to point out what is necessary in order to say that there can be even today an expression of the body of Christ which is both free and alive – showing forth her Lord – in meetings where the direct headship of Jesus Christ over His body is a practical, working reality.
But such a thing is only possible where there is an awesome presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is only present where there is a relentless pursuit of Jesus Christ.
And that is the challenge of 1 Corinthians 14. 🙂