20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Co 14:20–40). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Church Family: Family Rules
My wife worked with a genius of a children’s Sunday School teacher who had 2 simple rules for her children’s Sunday School class. They were:
In everything her children did she encouraged them to ask themselves, Is it kind? Is it safe?
Everywhere we go, there are rules, and for each rule, there are as many interpretations of how it should be applied as there are people in the room. We love making rules for other people and figuring out how to get around them ourselves.
There are a lot of rules in this passage from Paul. Toward the end, he just comes out and says, anyone who disagrees with these rules is not from God. But before he gets to that point of frustration with this church which keeps changing the rules in ways that are keeping the people who need Jesus out and holding the people who are using church as a means of status and power in, he says this:
“For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
My paraphrase of that is this: “Everyone take turns. God does not make you do anything, so don’t blame Him for your impatience and desire for attention.” You know, I think if they had invented basketball back in those days, Paul might have told them that church was like a team sport, not a competition between individuals. We actually have a better understanding of that today because many of us have watched teams win or lose, not because of talent, but because of lack of working together for the common good. Perhaps that is something that the Church taught sports.
The real heart of worship is not when we block out everyone else around us and pretend that God and ourselves are the only person that exists. The true heart of worship is when we are able to love God and love others at the same time. It is not a question of how high you hold your hands up, it is a question of whether your body posture is helping those around you to worship as well. Are people drawn to worship God more by being around you as you worship?
Our families have rules as well. Do those rules help us love God and one another, or do they have different purposes? It is easy, particularly working with children and young people, to get frustrated and start making up rules just to keep things in line ourselves. However, part of our role in raising up the next generation is to teach them the value of those rules… that they are meant to help us grow toward God, not just hold us back.
Reflection: How do you use rules in your family? What values do the rules you enforce teach others? Are the children in your life learning to seek after God or are they simply learning how to follow or get around a set of rules?
Trying to hear the music in the din of many voices.
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