We have all done it. Worn headphones and sung too loud or spoken too loud wile wearing them without knowing it. It’s interesting that it is annoying to people, because in the car, when the radio is loud and everyone is singing as loud as they can, we all dig it. Maybe it’s because we are all sharing in the music in the car and not just enjoying it alone, like on the headphones.
The church of Corinth was acting like a bunch of music-hoggers and talking as though wearing headphones, too. Loud and all about me. The loudest noise was their singing about themselves. Wanting to be considered prestigious because of who baptized them. Wanting to be considered elite because of their worship performance. Wanting to be considered important because of their gifting and resulting position within the church structure. Paul was challenging them to not be so bold about their achievements and so flippant about God’s grace. And in the end of chapter 12 of 1st Corinthians, Paul called them to take a look at a “more excellent way.”
And so, this past Sunday morning we continued the series “Summer Love” by focusing in on the beginning of chapter 13, which launches with three very pointed verses:
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
And what was the point? Here’s is what I would suggest:
Am I shouting “look at me” in my life louder than “I love you” as I live out my spiritual pursuit?
If my spiritual purpose becomes a self-absorbed pursuit to fulfill all my religious desires and a self-righteous goal to be admired as the most important thing the church has ever known, then I am not in any way, shape, or form, walking in the ways of Jesus or in any way carrying out the intention that He had for His church. I have missed the point, traded in the intended mission for personal gain and the intended outcomes for personal achievement.
Here’s THE BOTTOM LINE:
Why am I even a part of a church family? Why am I following Jesus? To make noise for God and feel important doing it? Or to make much of God’ s love by loving others and living to see life in them rather than to have a spiritually fulfilled life.
Jesus is calling His church to continue that mission of love to our neighbor and to the nations, here and around the world. He commanded His church to love as He loves, so that the world will know Love and the Lover’s ways through His followers. This is the mission of the church – to love for the glory and fame of the Lover. And nothing else. He took care of our spiritual fulfillment at the cross. And He will keep filling us up with His love as we grow in loving Him and loving each other.
May we surrender any desire to be noticed as important. May the noise of our lives be love.
Check back in Thursday to join the conversation about how we tend to miss the intended mission of God for His followers because of self-absorbed religious pursuits. In the meantime, go love your neighbor and the nations.
Thankful to be living sent together with you.