December 09, 2016

Clanging Cymbal

During my church visits there have been a couple of instances where the worship service has turned into an opportunity for the leadership to air their differences, or conduct business. As a visitor I sense the undertow, but I can’t with any amount of certainty wrap my head around a sermon laden with innuendo. Paul very pointedly labels those who speak with words and phrases that are not understood by others, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1Cor 13:1 NIV).

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----The Scottish Moralists helped us to understand the psychological underpinnings of “power corrupts”. Power is an interesting thing. It is not only the ability a king has to order armies around, constrain his citizens, and ruin marital joy for a harem-full of beautiful young women, it is subtle nuance. We might recoil to think of it as such, because the concept of power has been seized by left-wing power-mongers to fuel divisions amongst the people around everything from levels of wealth to skin color to sexuality to religion, etc., etc. Don’t let the odious fact that they do this in order to conquer by dividing invalidate the fact that they are right about the variety of ways power is expressed in human society.
-----And the ways it is retained. One preacher in the pulpit is a power ploy. I remember Lloyd McMillan very well. When I once woke up in the hospital after drinking too much whiskey the previous evening, I opened my eyes to two Lloyds looking down upon my pitiful condition. That was a twice powerful sight! It was dangerous to one’s church image to express ideas much different than those Lloyd preached. And for the greatest most part, that was good, because Lloyd was sharper than a needle with the fact-stickiest mind I’ve ever met, and I believe he sincerely tried to get his thinking right by the Lord’s Word. He used his power well.
-----But pulpit power is not the way God intended His church to be united and doctrinally clean. I remember a runtier preacher who didn't give a heave about many older folk in his congregation. Every powerful man faces ego challenge. It does not matter what form that power takes. Power is height, and when the self becomes powerful, the self is high (maybe not physically.) That’s simple math. And when the self is high, the mind sees height when it thinks upon itself. All minds must reflect upon themselves in order to maintain and abide by their core beliefs. Power corrupts when the core beliefs are made from too many comparisons to men instead of even more comparisons to God’s Word. Height is a relative thing. Social height is not so high when the mind compares itself to Jesus through His Word. Then social height becomes no height when properly used to build up everyone you contact.
-----We say we study the Bible. But truly, how much do we actually study the Bible, and how much are we really studying other men’s study of the Bible? How much have preachers and teachers and elders really mentored and taught their congregations the practices and means of studying the Bible, rather than proudly feeding out their own pabulum. The proper power of the church is the Holy Spirit, not the preacher‘s popularity. And that power only comes into the congregation through each individual heart of the congregation. (So, if you want your church to be powerful in the Holy Spirit, get powerful in the Holy Spirit, then go build up others.) It’s power was strong in the early church; read the Book of Acts. And so when Paul touched in passing the general arrangement of their worship services at I Corinthians 14:26-33, we see plurality of speakers, not one paid preacher holding the external form of social power instead of the church's real, internal form of Holy Spirit power.
-----”Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5)
The church never did return to that love it once knew. And the church’s lampstand has for near 2000 years been jealously guarded in a place where it does not belong.

Love you all,
Steve Corey