Speaking Of Life 2027 | And that End is Love
Most of the writing we have from Paul addresses issues coming up in the churches he planted. In the Corinthian letters we have dialogue with a fledgling church in a complex, cosmopolitan city.
And many times in his letters, Paul addresses the phenomenon of tongues—called glossolalia in Greek. The important history here is that glossolalia—at least speaking a semi-coherent language in worship—was common in the surrounding cults in the area.
Those who had this experience were considered the elite. One of Paul’s major issues was dealing with one-upmanship and ego wars that resulted from this. People used this gift of the Spirit as a way to bump their social status and pull the spotlight over to themselves.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (ESV)
Notice that Paul is writing about the many gifts given—everything from administration to healing to tongues. And he gives the same reason—the one purpose— for them all: the common good. All the gifts are given by one Lord for the good of the Body of Christ.
In the very next section of this letter, Paul writes what is commonly referred to as “The Love Chapter.” We’ve all heard these words at weddings: “Love is patient, love is kind…” And while they work for weddings, they weren’t written about romantic love. These verses, like the spiritual gifts, describe the love and connection of the community, which is at the heart of his letters to believers in Corinth. The gifts are to be used in love—and all for the good of the church community.
While many like to focus on their individual gifts, God calls us out of ourselves and into relationship. He calls us into a deeper and richer life as we work out the Christian life in community.
As humans, we naturally pair off. Any odd number makes for the old cliche of the “third wheel.” We start in-crowding and excluding and cliquing up—the more people, the worse it gets.
Isn’t it amazing then that God is three in one? That the center of reality is a trinity? This miraculous relationship is the nucleus of everything and is fundamental to who God is.
The church in Corinth, like the church today, was distracted by the gifts of the Spirit which were given as a means to an end. And that end is love.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life