Orderly church worship

1 October 2017

Cacophony. This is probably the one word that best described what Apostle Paul is saying about the worship time in the Corinthian churches. It has become a racket, a deafening mixture of sounds, a harsh discordance. Whether it be a hymn or a revelation, when everyone is speaking at the same time, it becomes deafening and nobody hears anybody. It brings about discord. It causes confusion. It is like a marketplace, with buyers and sellers bargaining with raised voices. Everyone wants their voices to be heard over others.

Apostle Paul sensed that with the generous bestowing of spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit on the Christians, many of them were simply eager to use their gifts whenever they met at church services. It must have been a tremendous and joyous feeling for the Christians to suddenly possess the divine gifts of prophesying, teaching, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues. From being just ordinary Christian men and women, they became super-intelligent and unexpectedly acquired proficiencies that would have required many years of study and diligent practice.

For the individual himself or herself, having such a divine gift would surely cause them to think that God would require them to use and apply it. Their eagerness is not unexpected and it is a very natural human response. Inevitably, some may do so in a boastful or prideful manner. Imagine the road sweeper or the scullery maid with such gifts; they being the least educated and probably least heard and would be excited to tell everyone and anyone. We can assume that God bestowed His gifts on both the wise and the simple.

Apostle Paul did not question their divine possessions but he pointed to them two important aspects of such possessions. These gifts are to be used (1) that everyone may be instructed and encouraged and (2) God is not a God of disorder but of peace and everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Likewise, in the present day context, many Christians possess divine gifts from the Holy Spirit. We received our gifts with gladness and thanksgiving. We may not be having the kind of disorderly and confused worship as in the Corinthian churches but we ought to take heart with Apostle Paul’s admonition to use the gifts for the good of others. By doing this, others will be instructed and encouraged and that everything will be done in a fitting and orderly manner without confusion and discord. Divine gifts from God are not for our personal benefit but it should promote peace in our lives and that of our church and community.