The God We Worship
Lord, help me live today better than yesterday, more in step with You, more loving to others.
1 Corinthians 14:26-40
Consider: "Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness" (Psa. 96:9). Spend some time doing that.
Paul continues his instructions about the ordering of Christian worship (26-33). It is striking that there is no mention of leadership; rather, he calls for every-member ministry with the criteria that what is brought edifies the community. It is also clear that the gifts brought, specifically tongues and prophecy, are not outside the control of the person in receipt of the gift. The speaker can choose whether to speak or keep silent, and for all his commendation of prophecy, Paul does not endorse unrestrained numbers of prophecies within a worship setting (29-32). The rationale for all these instructions is given in verse 33, with its concluding phrase as an indication that this is true whatever congregation one might consider. This transcends time and place.
Whatever Paul meant in verses 34 and 35, it cannot be an absolute prohibition on women speaking, as that would contradict the clear expectation that women will both pray and prophesy (1 Cor. 11:4-5) and the "each of you" (26) that assumes the participation of both men and women. Additionally, it is married women who are to ask their husbands at home (35). In other words, whatever the issue that Paul is addressing here (and there are many suggestions), it has to do with the behavior of some married women within the church that is causing additional disruption to worship. It is not an instruction devoid of the context within which it is given.
Paul's primary concern is that "everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way" (40). In Corinth the problem was that their worship was chaotic and disordered. For some communities today, the reverse is the problem. There is so much order and peace that Paul might be forgiven for wondering if everyone had gone to sleep. Pause for thought?
"The character of one's deity is reflected in the character of one's worship" (Gordon Fee). What does your worship say about God?
Loving Lord, as I join with Your people to worship You, inspire us with wisdom, love, and power. May all that is said and done bring glory to Your holy name.
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