Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The First Century Chuch

What was going on during "Church" "services" in Corinth in the 1st century? It sounds like they were quite the event. First, people were not following the dress code. Some women were not covering their heads and some men were. Paul saw the head-covering dress code as a straightforward matter of authority. (1 Cor 11:3-16)

Second, there was food and alcohol. Apparently it was some sort of hybrid potluck as some people had food and some did not. Some people gorged themselves while some remained hungry. (Maybe they just really didn't like jello salad and decided to go without?) Some got trashed. All disrespected the reason for eating together. (1 Cor 11:17-34)

Third, there was supernatural activity. People were speaking in tongues and no one else could understand what they were saying. (1 Cor 14:1-12)

Fourth, people were just going through the motions. They weren't worshipping God with their heart, soul, mind and strength. (1 Cor 14:14-15)

Fifth, and most importantly, they were selfish.

They dressed how they wanted, not in a manner that would help others to feel comfortable and connect. They ate and drank what they brought for themselves instead of bringing food for others who were in need. They worshipped God in a way that worked for them, but didn't help others. They went along with the flow but didn't really connect to God - because they were excluding others.

If there was one thing that was missing from worship in Corinth in the 1st century, it was the understanding that "It's not about me." It was a lack of selflessness. It is the same problem that we have in worship today.

We might not be concerned about head coverings, but we want to go to a church where people dress a certain way.
We might not overeat (during communion) or get drunk (during communion), but we still keep for ourselves what we should be sharing with others.
We might not speak in a language that others cannot understand, but we still use words that divide people instead of bringing them together.
We might not recite empty words, but we still refrain from doing our part to seek God's face.
We might not fail in the same ways as the church in Corinth, but we still go to church for us and not for God.

What is church all about? To be entertained? To hear 'good' music? To see a good show? To be fed? To be pastored, placated to, pleased? To see your friends? To meet people? To get a pick-me-up? To fulfill an obligation?

Or is it to love and serve others? You can do that no matter what kind of music is played (or with none at all). You can do that no matter what people are wearing. You can do that no matter what is said or what words are used. You can do that, so could they.

Us and Corinth: not so different.

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