1 Corinthians 13:1–13 (NRSV)
The Gift of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
The past couple of weeks we have discussed some of the inner workings of Church. The companions or gifts of the Spirit. I personally prefer the term companion because of the relational aspect of that word. I am saying this because to be empowered by the Spirit one must be with the Spirit. And the gifts that the Spirit gives are not some magical ability that we can wield to smite our enemies but are to be used for the mutual benefit of the community, or for the common good.
It is important to sit here and contemplate these gifts or companions of the spirit and to reflect on the purpose of their blessings to us because it can be very easy to be distracted by little things surrounding them. Little things often creep in too our expressions of faith that may be initially good but can become something that can actually pull us away from an honest relationship with God. Little things can grow and become central to our systems until all that people see are these little quirks instead of the Gospel. This is why Jesus warned his first disciples to be aware of the yeast of the Pharisees. Yeast is a little thing that grows and spreads, it is not always bad, but it must be kept in check, too much yeast can make bread bitter and turn wine to vinegar.
The little thing in the Corinthian church focused on the gift of tongues. This one gift quickly became the standard among the faithful to determine spiritual value or proof of authenticity. The problems is that it is a gift allotted to individuals by God, not something that we can command God to grant. We may not see this gift as the method to determine authentic faith but there other singular ideas that have emerged as proof of orthodoxy in our eyes. Our positions on issues such as temperance, equality of races and genders, immigration, abortion, and social justice have all become singular ideas among the Christian community use to determine if a person is with Christ or against Him. Little things that can grow and cause bitterness. At the end of the twelfth chapter and all of the thirteenth chapter, Paul urges us to consider a more perfect way to approach identifying the true spiritual nature of those within the community. Love.
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Paul dives right in to point out the problem with the Corinthian system. If we happen to have the gift of tongues and if we are using them for our own personal gain they cease being a blessing to other and become an irritation. I am sure by now you are all aware that Kristy and I are the proud parents of a toddler. Albert is an amazing boy, full of curiosity and spunk, and he is developing a keen ear for manipulation of sounds which we could say is music. Unfortunately as he explores the sounds that various things make to most people he is just making a great deal of noise. Most of the time it is a wonderful thing to observe and to assist in the exploration but at times, like when I have a headache or am trying to have a conversation, his manipulation of sounds is just irritating. There is a time where it is mutually beneficial and a time where it is not. This is how Paul is describing the gift of tongues. There are times where it is a wonderful expression of the companionship of the Spirit, but it can also become as irritating as a toddler banging on the pans in a kitchen. Paul urging the followers of Christ to become aware of the community and Spirit’s leading to understand when to speak and when to be silent, and to understand which voice to use. He is encouraging us to become disciplined in the use of our gifts.
“And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” This is the verse that hits most people because these are the gifts that most of the Western churches focus on. We are an enlightened people, focusing on knowledge and truth. If you disagree with me that is fine, but what do we generally call the hour prior to our Meeting for Worship and what are our Mid-week meetings generally known as? Sunday school and Bible Study, both terms that focus on knowledge and the quest for understanding. Paul is telling us that we may be able to speak the word of God and we may understand and be able to teach the most accurate systematic theologies, but they are pointless if we cannot use them to encourage those around us into a deeper relationship with God and humanity.
He then says I might give away all of my possessions and help those in need but if I do not do this in such a way that encourages a deepening relationship with God and mankind it is pointless. The expressions of spirituality, the correct theology, and serve to humanity are all pillars of churches across our lands. It does not matter if it is a charismatic, liberal, or fundamental church Paul has told us within those three verses that our expression of faith is worthless if we do not have love. Let that sink in for a moment. Even reflect on your own personal expressions of faith over the past years and consider what we have been focusing on. Have we focused on signs of spirituality? Have we focused on knowledge and proper theology? Have we focused on social justice? None of these things are bad, but each of these can become one of those little things, or yeast that if not kept in check can make us bitter.
What is the spiritual flavor, the lasting impression that people have when they encounter us? This is the thing that Paul is urging us to consider. Those are the things that are mutually beneficial to the community the things that will continue to attract and encourage them to walk further down the paths toward God. This is passage is one of the most powerful passages in the New Testament because it so fully reflects the purpose and calling of our lives. We are made to love. This passage is one of the most widely known passages in all of scripture and is the most used passages for the most universally recognized mysteries or sacraments of life, marriage. Have we ever really considered why that is?
Human beings are social creatures. We need relationships to reproduce and to function. We have observed this from the very dawn of time and continue to observe how important relationships are. There are studies in psychology that are showing that our brains function best when there are other brains around us. We need communities starting with the family and branching out into society. It is written in the very first book of scripture, “It was not good for man to be alone.” We need relationships to function, but we need love to excel.
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This is what love is, yet often our relationships reflect the opposite of love. So often we see love as being an emotion, but that is a chemical response to stimuli. We fall in and out of that type of love all the time, when our relationships are based solely on these chemical reactions what good is it? Love is focused on others not ourselves, it is focused on community not individuals. Love is focused on the character of God and how God responds to humanity.
Again consider the past few years what has been the focus of our cultures, both secular and sacred? Has it been focused on patience, kindness, or humility? We get worked up over being right, ensuring our rights, and getting our due and through it all we have forgotten the most important aspect of human life. The most important things are developing authentic relationships with God and mankind.
Every relationship, from our families to those at work, from our interactions with people at the store or on the street should be saturated in love. When we eat at a restaurant do we show God’s love? If so does it reflect in our generosity or do our tips reflect our response to service? When we provide service to others are we reflecting God’s love for them in how we respond? If so does it show? When we speak others are our words saturated with the love that God has for them? When we interact with our children and our spouses are we honoring that of God in them? Are we patient and kind? Do we have hope and are we willing to endure?
We live in a culture that hungers for love, but does not know where to find it. We often say it is in the church and certainly we have found it here but are we showing it to others or have we allowed little things to make our lives bitter and sour? Marriages across the nation are failing because they are built on self instead of love. Families are broken because they are built on self instead of love. Communities are declining because they are built on self instead of love. Churches are sitting empty because they have neglected love.
What would happen if we chose to love? What would happen if we as individuals chose to become a blessing to others and to live lives of encouragement? What would happen in our families and our communities? What would happen? It has been tried countless times throughout history, when people focus on others instead of themselves there is always the same result, growth. It may not be in ways that we would like but there is always growth. Because when we live lives of love we are constantly adding to the lives of others, and when both parties are looking for the common good of each other not only is there addition but multiplication.
The ways of love are the ways of God. It is the very nature of God. It is the life that Jesus exemplified while he lived among us. He showed us how to love God, embrace the Holy Spirit, and to live lives of love with others. Paul encourages us to focus on Christ, to take on that type of life and to live it out in our families, communities, places of work, and in our churches. To not let the little things become overly important and to instead use all things for the mutual benefit of those around us.
As we consider this passage in this time of open worship, let us contemplate what love really is. Let us consider how love is really expressed, and where we can best live it out. Faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 12:12–31 (NRSV)
One Body with Many Members
(Cp Eph 4:1–16)
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
There is an important question that we have contemplated as a church several times, “What’s our salvation for?” This is a very thought provoking question. How we answer it says quite a bit about our faith. As we have considered it mainly in our Wednesday evening meetings, we have come to realize that the point of faith from the most ancient of days in Israel to the present era the answer remains fairly consistent, our salvation is for the world. Jesus came to live, die and raise again so that the world could be redeemed or restored into a friendship with God. We as the church exist to participate in this redemptive work. The question that remains is when does this redemption begin and when is it complete?
Last week we began a discussion about the gifts or companions of the Spirit. Among the various factions of faith there are varying degrees and thoughts about these gifts. And often in the discussion we loss sight as to what the purpose or the point of the gifts. This is why I mentioned that the word we translate as gift could also be used as a companion. It is something that comes with another. There are relational aspects at play. The question what is salvation for and the question of what are the gifts for are very similar. Both deal with the redemption or the common good of world.
I want to focus a bit on the aspect of common good. I want to focus on it because in our contemporary culture this phrase has been politicized to the degree that we fail to hear what the writes mean. We read into the text a 21st century idea that may be different than that of the 1st. The phrase was used throughout the Greek speaking world and Paul uses it while writing to the people of Corinth to direct their attention to a reality that is around all people. It means to bear with, to accompany, to serve, or to bring together in unity for mutual benefit. The common good is an attitude that is not focused on individualism but the encouragement of the community as a whole.
The common good, it is interesting that Paul is concerned about this as he writes to these people of ancient times. It is interesting because somewhere along the line this ancient community of believers lost track of what their purpose was. They became distracted from the good news and were being drawn to a form of idolatry. They were jockeying for position within the community, using the gifts they experienced as evidence of greater spirituality and somewhere along the line they failed to bear and accompany the community for mutual benefit and became focused on themselves.
Paul then says too them that we are all one body, with many members. Each member has an importance and without it the entire body or community would suffer. Paul uses a common illustration from the ancient Greek world, the imagery of the human body. Every aspect of our bodies have a function and purpose. Among the ancient Greek philosophies they would use this illustration as a method demonstrate the importance of a hierarchical society. What areas were most important to the human body and they would then pass those images to segments of the population. The problem with this line of thinking is what is the most important part of the body?
We can debate this line of thinking for the rest of the day, dividing up into groups that would say the head is the most important because that is where the brain is and the brain gives the rest of the body the commands so it is clearly the most important. Then another group would chime in saying no it is the heart because the heart pumps blood throughout the body which carries life to the member. Yet another group would say the stomach because without that we would not have nourishment to sustain life. Then a subsection of the stomach group would say no it would have to be the mouth or the hands because without them food would not enter the body. The debate would circulate on and on. And that is why Paul uses this illustration, but not in defense of a hierarchical system but to counter the arguments. Every member is equally important, because without the interconnected members working together for the common good the body would suffer greatly.
The people of Corinth were looking around them and trying to justify which gifts were most important and where to place the people that exhibited those gifts into places of leadership. They then deemed certain gifts as having greater importance within the community. People sought power and influence and before long the common good was thrown out the window and the witness of the church diminished they no longer reflected the life of Christ but instead became a religious expression of the world around them.
What did they find as being the most important gift? It is not too difficult to figure it out because it is the most controversial gift debated even today, the gift of tongues. The people of Corinth saw this one gift as being the most important because without it they could not prove that you were with the Spirit. Those that did not exhibit this gift were not allowed into leadership roles because there was no evidence of their spirituality.
Now before I continue I want us all to know that Paul is a firm believer in the gift of tongues. There is ample evidence in scripture proving his belief. What Paul is saying is that we cannot determine someone’s spiritual value or authenticity by looking at a singular gift. I too am a firm believer in this gift, though I myself have not consciously exhibited it, nor do I even claim to understand how or why it is exhibited in the first place. But I have witnessed it in various forms. But that is not the point, the point is that we cannot and should not use this one expression of the Spirit as a determining factor for someone’s value within the community.
Paul goes as far as placing this one gift at the very bottom of the list, and even fails to mention it in others. Why would he do that? Why would he down play a gift that he himself exhibits? Because in the greater picture the tongue is just a member of the body. It is just a small part of the greater whole. The greater whole is more important, and is the focus of the Spirit. The common good is greater than the individual gift.
This chapter is warning us to not get held up on singular ideas and concepts. Warning us not to become too narrow minded as to miss what is in the peripheral. Too often we as humans begin to develop frameworks around ideas which become central to our belief to such a degree that anything that does not fall within our narrow view of reality cannot be right.
The Friends Church is not immune from this. We have frameworks that we deem as being important. For many years as an immature believer I thought I must quake before I could speak in the Meeting. That I was not a true believer if I did not experience this filling of the Spirit and I neglected membership because I did not even believe I was truly a Christian if I did not quake. Where did I come up with this idea? It was a perversion of interpretation. I heard stories from teacher of people that were so filled with the Spirit that they would quake and would not stop until they spoke the word that was given to them. Although none of my teachers directly said that I must quake I believed it to be true.
Little things, things that may not actually have any bearing on the expansion of the Kingdom of God can distract our focus from the truth. Some of these little things can be very good causes and can begin as a ministry for the common good. A great example of this would be the Women’s Temperance Union. To stand against the abuse of a substance that causes intoxication, addiction, and the degradation of society is a wonderful movement to get involved in, but can we in our quest to rid our communities of sinful activities detract from the gospel of Christ. Little things.
“But strive for the greater gift.” Paul says, “And I will show you a more excellent way.” Paul is telling us that we should not focus on the singular things, but focus on the common good. Seek the Spirit and let the Spirit guide our paths. So maybe you do not speak in tongues seek the Spirit and if the Spirit deems it necessary to allot that gift to you for the common good then bless you. So you do not have the gift of healing seek the Spirit and allow that relationship to guide your ways and as you walk with others the Spirit may grant you that gift because it is for the common good. Seek the Spirit. Seek that spirit not because you desire a particular gift but seek the Spirit because you desire to participate in the ongoing ministry and expansion of the Kingdom of God. Seek the Spirit and become a companion of it so that we might become the gift of grace to someone in need. Seek the Spirit because in the Spirit we each find our place within the body to minister to the common good. Strive and seek the giver of the gifts, pray for apostles to be sent, pray for prophets to speak the word of the Lord, pray for healing to occur, pray for God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in heaven, but as we pray seek that more excellent way. The way of Christ, the rhythm and lifestyle that He demonstrated to us if we seek that fully in our lives every moment of every day we will witness those companions of the Spirit bearing us and those around us along the way.
1 Corinthians 12:1–11 (NRSV)
12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
Prior to every major movement or resurgence of the Church there has been a significant cultural shift within the community. During the first great schism around 1000 AD when the Eastern and Western churches became the Orthodox and Catholic churches there was a great deal of internal politics within the Empire. It seems long ago, but the issues that caused that divide are still just as fresh today as they were a thousand years ago. With that being said within the church at that time there were also significant movements that propelled it into the future even though the Empire and the church with it was divided. This time of great trail gave us the great spiritual works of the desert fathers, it gave us the monastic movements, and ultimately it refocused the church on the Spirit where so many were focusing on civics.
Fast forward to the reformation approximately four to five hundred years later there was another massive cultural shift. The Roman Empire had fallen, and the church for centuries was the dominate political force in Europe. The church engaged in war attempting to push back the encroaching Muslim influence, they promoted inquisitions that demanded allegiance to whatever the bishops said was right, and after this occurred for centuries people slowly began to reevaluate their faith. Universities emerged and slowly the secular leaders began to gain greater influence over the people. The church seemed to be at its weakest point and then the Protestant Reformation began. We largely see this only from the eyes of those that left the Roman Church, but even within the Church of Rome reforms occurred, there was a greater focus on our individual place within the greater kingdom. Churches and religious orders emerged throughout and the Kingdom of God continued.
Here we are today approximately one thousand years after the first major divide, and around five hundred years from the second. And all around us we see great cultural pressures that seem to be waging war within the church. We might think the church is at its weakest point that our nations are at the brink of collapse but I have often said that this is just the beginning of something greater. I bring this all up again because I have great faith in our God, I have seen Him do amazing things in the lives of those that seek to follow His ways. I have full confidence that God is not finished yet.
There are cycles within history, cycles within cultures, and cycles within the church. With each generation that passes through the journey of time different issues within the human experience become a focal point and we begin to work and minister through them until the issue seems to be eradicated. We look at our world today and we see chaos but it is much better than it was in ancient times. With each turning of the cycles there is improvement and then a revisiting of seemingly new struggles.
The first letter to the Corinthians is a letter that was written to a church that had been passing through one of those cycles and in many ways we are revisiting some of the same issues today that affected that church of ancient days. I find it comforting to know that those ancient saints struggled with issue of mass litigation, intimacy, and spirituality in ways that are so similar to our timeframe. I find it comforting because the church survived and thrived through the ordeal which gives us great hope for today. The things they dealt with in that church were scandalous, yet Paul did not give up on them, and God did not give up on them.
Today’s passage is one that deals primarily with spirituality, or the inner workings of the church. So often we are lead to believe that the ancient church was united on all things spiritual, but there were just as many if not more divisions and ideals back then as there are today. During the time this letter was penned there was not one central church meeting house that everyone gathered at, but it was a collection of many small groups that met where ever they could. These meeting places might be comfortable like a great estate or down in burial chambers, they would gather where they could because their gatherings were seen as illegal. They met to worship, they prayed, and they ministered and their numbers grew. As their numbers grew they would branch off and form new meeting, and find new places to meet. The church was not a building but it was people, they were one body though they met all across the city. It is important to keep that in mind when we read many scriptural texts. Often we view the texts through our own cultural mindset we look at things then through our own experiences and we get trapped.
This letter that Paul wrote to the people of this city is often seen as a reply to a letter or letters that we written to him. Paul is responding to situations that were mentioned, questions that were asked, and they are seeking advice on how to proceed. The twelfth chapter is a response to the mysteries of the church, the graces and gifts that God entrusted them to use within their community.
The Spirit. We often think of the Holy Spirit as being the personality of the triune God that only came after the day of Pentecost but just as Jesus had a preexistence so did the Spirit. The problem is that prior to the Day of Pentecost the Spirit of God was a fearful thing. It was not something that could be controlled and would often be seen as the angel of death, especially if you were the first born of Egyptian descent. This is why Jesus said that the Spirit was like the wind. Something that is unknowable and untamable. But the Spirit can be observed.
One of the greatest things about Jesus is that He taught us to live in the presence of God. He showed us the Holy Rhythm of life: worship, prayer, and service. This lifestyle allows us to observe the Spirit of God, to chase and to follow what the ancient Celtic Christians described as the wild goose. Paul is telling the people of Corinth about this wind, this wild goose and letting them know just a bit about the personality of the allusive Spirit of God. The first thing he speaks about is that the Spirit is full of grace. “Now concerning spiritual gifts…I do not want you to be uninformed.” Often we can get hung up or bogged down by the terminology: Spiritual Gifts. What we translate as Spiritual Gifts could also be companions of the wind, circumstances, cause, experience, or even followers. I bring this up because we can get our attention drawn to an aspect of this phrase that maybe should not be the focus. The word gift in this verse simply means what comes with the Spirit. The Spirit of God is what we are to be focused on not the gifts.
Paul then proceeds to speak about the life the Corinthian people had before they became followers of Christ. Easily enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. The people of Corinth were focusing on the gift. Paul was concerned that the people of Corinth were getting their attention drawn away from the truth by a show. Just as the ancient Egyptian magicians could mimic the signs of Moses there were some within the church that would put on a show that would mimic the wake brought about by the wind of the Spirit of God. Do you sense the concern that Paul has at this moment? There are wolves prowling around among the sheep. They are gaining authority and influence among the brothers and sisters of the church yet did not know the one whom they are supposed to be following.
Paul then says, “I want you to understand…” I want you to see the truth or the reality of the situation. No one can truly have any of the gifts if they do not truly know Jesus and are observing and following the patterns created by the Spirit.
So let us take a step back and again consider the cyclical nature of the human experience. The pattern of wake of our history which has been cut through time and space since the creation of the world. A pattern, something that can be observed. Something that can be used to gain understanding as we approach the unknown future. This is also something that God can and will use to help us minister to those around us as we participate in the Kingdom of God. Patterns of cultural shifts and progression to something greater. Friends, God is still very much at work in the world around us if we are willing to look.
We look out across our cultural landscape and we make observations that we live among godless people that reject every aspect of Christ. You would be right, but I ask a simple question why do they reject? You can give me all the theological arguments you want but I can answer that with a simple statement: we have been lead away from the truth and what they see is not Christ but a manipulated image of Christ that has been emptied of true power. What we are observing is something that has happened countless times throughout our history, the church is weakened because we have turned our eyes from Christ and have looked instead to the mimics who use illusion to boggle our minds.
Is there real power to be had? Absolutely. There are a variety of gifts but the same Spirit, there are a variety of services but the same Lord, and there are a variety of activities but the same God who activates all of them in everyone. The power is not in us but in God who allows those companions of the wind to dwell with us for the common good. Some have wisdom, some have knowledge, some have faith, some have healing, to some the ability to work miracles, to another prophecy, to another discernment of Spirits, and another various tongues and interpretation of tongues. All of this is all around us available to be used, all of this is here in this room and out on the streets we walk and drive every day. But they are not magic. They are not things we can summon with the right words or ceremonies.
We have all these things when we observe and follow the Spirit. Paul says that all these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
Paul wants us to understand something very important. It is not about the gift it is about following the Spirit. No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. Do we really know what that means? Jesus is Lord means that we devote everything to Him. Every activity, every possession, every breath is given to Jesus. To be able to say Jesus is Lord we must step back and entrust everything to Him, without holding anything back. We only have the ability to do this if we are observers of the Spirit. That is the gift of faith. What happens after that? To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
If we say Jesus is Lord, everything about us should change, we should become disciples or students of His life and lifestyle. Everything about Jesus was focused on loving God through worship, embracing the Holy Spirit in prayer, and listening to that Spirit and living the love of God with others for the common good. The gifts, the companions, or experience of the Spirit come through that holy rhythm when we personally step back and let Jesus be Lord. When we are brave enough to let go of control and let the Spirit direct our paths as we observe and listen in prayer. When we walk out of this meeting house and allow the Spirit to become active in our lives we will begin to see grace being distributed through us, for the common good.
Friends, we are in one of those cyclical moments of history where the Church is about to explode again in the world around us. An age where God will draw many to Him and His Kingdom will be glorified on Earth as it is in Heaven. But will we see it or will our eyes be diverted from the truth? I have seen God do amazing things. I have also seen mimics. I have seen gifts activated and distributed to people at a moment because there was a need. I have seen much…but you know something more impressive everything that I have seen has been done through people that would not have said they did anything. Most were totally unaware that what they did at that moment had any real value. That is the thing about the gifts they are distributed to those at the right place at the right time, they are activated when the Spirit chooses. Our part is to follow and to be where we need to be.
As we enter this time of open worship and communion as Friends let us each just step back and examine our lives. Consider the people that we encountered along the journey of life that brought us to this point how did God use them? Consider the people we have encountered and our responses to them? And let us truly consider the statement fully of Jesus is Lord and what that means for us and to those around us if we were to believe it completely.