Congratulations everyone!! Today marks the official half-way mark for the year! While I know there are 366 days this year (Leap-year) and we are on day 181, psychologically the end of June marks our half-way point. Thank you to all who have participated in reading each day, and a special thank you to all the commenters who have provided fresh insight and a challenging perspective to me and the rest of the readers. Finally, a very special thank you to our #1 commenter, Sarah, who has provided rich content to our daily experience. Thanks again to everyone; let’s make the second half of the year even stronger!
This chapter spends a lot of time talking about worship, including tongues and prophecy. Ultimately, it is talking about the importance of having worship with a purpose. Everything has meaning and should be for the edification of the body. Here in Nashville, because of the amazing musical talent this city provides, most worship experiences are really good from a talent perspective. The problem is when it becomes a performance by the musical artists. Please don’t hear me condemn the artists because the truth is it goes both ways. Those listening must take responsibility for what they hear or experience and turn it to the strengthening of your relationship with God.
The “Love” chapter! This is probably the most read chapter in all of the Bible. I’d say at least 40%-50% of all weddings I’ve attended in my lifetime have read this chapter during the ceremony (my own wedding included). However, the verse that stood out to me doesn’t even talk about love; it talks about fully understanding who God is and what He is really capable of. In verse 12 it says, Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. While I feel God’s presence in my life, the reality is I don’t have the full picture of who He really is. I’m sure when Paul wrote this, mirrors were probably less clear than they are now. Paul is referring to the image we currently see of God as something less than perfect, but when we are in His presence we will see the His full image and truly know who He is.
It’s hard to understand how the Holy Spirit is the enables all things. It is through Him that we are able to accomplish God’s perfect plan. While we may be limited in what we can accomplish as imperfect humans, God enables us to do all things through the by Holy Spirit. In verses 4-6 it explains that we are all different and provide different gifts, but the Lord is the provider of all for us. 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
It wasn’t until recently that communion became more than a ritual to me. Growing up in a conservative church we were very careful to keep communion very sterile and plain and to keep it as a remembrance of Christ only. The problem was that it was barely a remembrance to me. It was just something we did every three months. When I read verses 23-26 I see that communion is not something to help us remember Christ, it is meant to recognize that He died for our sins, that His death brings us life, and that He is coming once again. As I read this passage I want be reminded that the eating of the bread and drinking of the wine means more than a simple ritual, I want it to remind me of where my purpose comes from. 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Today’s reading is an interesting addition to yesterday’s commentary when I mentioned the importance of not forcing the world to take on my personal view of Christianity. Today the chapter ultimately talks about the purpose of all we do, which is to bring glory to God. Verses 31-33 sum up this thought nicely. 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God– 33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. If we focus our attention on bringing glory to God, His glory will draw people to Him. The important thing to remember is that I am a reflection of Christ. I can be a mirror or I can skew what is real. It is my choice and my job as a believer to allow God’s power to show the world what He wants them to see.
Too many times we try to make the world conform to our view of Christianity as believers who already have a relationship with God. It’s almost as though we require them to act as though they have already experienced God’s grace before they even know who He is. Verse 19 hit me right between the eyes this morning; Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. Paul goes on to talk about how he becomes whatever he needs to become in order to reach people with the gospel. Even though I know people must experience God for themselves, I still want them to be just like me or just like the people in my church. I need to be more like them so they can experience Christ where they are instead of where I think they should be. Only God knows where they need to be in relation to Him. My job is simply to make the introduction.
Verse 13 stood out to me today, Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall. While we are not under the law, we are part of a community of believers and we should be sensitive to those who are in a different place spiritually from us. For me, it is easy to say it is ok to have a glass of wine from time to time, but for someone else it may not be something they are willing to do for whatever reason. The important thing for me is to be willing to refrain from drinking a glass of wine for the spiritual benefit of a fellow believer. My relationship with God and helping others with their relationships is what really matters.
1 Corinthians 7 is always an interesting chapter to me. At first glance it feels as though Paul is really against marriage. The reality is not that Paul hates marriage, it’s that he is against anything that could possibly turn our attention away from fully serving God. Paul simply says that the desire to be married, if it is a distraction, should not get in the way of turning our attention to God. The truth is that Paul is correct. As a married man with kids, I have to spend the majority of my time concerned with my family’s well being. If I was single I could get a lot more done for the kingdom of God. However, the thing to keep in mind is that singleness does not ensure full time service to God. The level of commitment to service is what really matters. In the end, a servants heart that is dedicated to a genuine relationship with God, will fully serve Him in everything they do.
Verse 12 says, “Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything. While all things are permissible through the freedom we have in salvation through Christ, not all things are beneficial. More over, things should never be allowed to master our hearts. There should never be anything in our lives that takes the place of Christ or our relationship with Him.