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Fun Fad and Faithfulness

To a church that prided itself on its "wisdom" and "spirituality" and spiritual "gifted-ness" the apostle Paul wrote challenging words in 1 Corinthians 12:3 — "Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit." There are many places where you might expect to hear someone cursing or seeking to discredit the name and Person and of Jesus Christ, but inside a worship assembly of His own church is not one of them! Yet that is apparently exactly what was happening at the church of Christ in first century Corinth. To top it all, the person/persons doing so were claiming to be under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit. Concerning this astonishing verse of Scripture, Burton Coffman wrote: "It is astounding that some of the tongue-speakers in Corinth had (presumably) blasphemed the name of the Lord Himself, 'anathema' meaning accursed" (James Burton Coffman Commentaries, Vol.7, Commentary on 1 & 2nd Corinthians, p 192)! And this in a seemingly pace-setting congregation. After all, their assemblies were exciting. They had gifted people who were not being held back. They were the "tongue-speaking-est" and "prophesying-est" congregation in the New Testament. People "encountered and experienced" God in miraculous ways. Men and women prayed and sang and preached and spoke in tongues in a wondrous and unrestrained display of talent and giftedness. But there, right smack dab in the middle of all that so-called superior spirituality and giftedness and religious fervor and frenzy, somebody (or somebodies) was calling Jesus "accursed" and claiming that their Christ-dishonoring message came by and through the Holy Spirit.

What do we learn here? Too many things to discuss in this brief space. But don't miss this. There is more to genuine spirituality than the presence of "gifted" people who exercise and display their talents. There is more to genuine, Christ-honoring worship than having a good time, even if we claim it is in and through the Holy Ghost. The church at Corinth was having a rip-roaring good time in worship. But the "gifted" members who put themselves on center stage preached and practiced things that dishonored Jesus Christ. Words from Jesus remind us worship can be very contemporary in the sense of pleasing men, yet fail to please and honor Christ — "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:8-9). A nine-year old wrote a preacher suggesting, "Dear Preacher, I think a lot more people would come to your church if you moved it to Disneyland." Probably true. But while worship ought to be enjoyable and edifying, the main question is not is our worship fun and faddish, but is it faithful. Is the primary purpose in worship to do what draws and pleases a crowd, or to do what pleases and honors Jesus Christ as Lord? Will you think about it?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ